Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Delusion of the "Perfect" Mother

I spent a good part of the day at the doctor's office dealing with a sick kid -- what parent isn't this time of year? While in the waiting room for three hours, I had plenty of time to read freelance writer Adrienne Martini's book, Hillbilly Gothic: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood. I met Ms. Martini once as she used to be the editor of Knoxville's alternative paper, The Metro Pulse, and did a review of my documentary, Six, before moving North to pursue other interests.

The book tells the story of Adrienne's decent into madness after the birth of her daughter and her subsequent hospitalization for postpartum depression. Apparently, the women in her family descend into madness after the birth of their children and the same happened to Adrienne. Unfortunately, like many mothers with postpartum depression, Adrienne buys into the delusion that out there, is some perfect mother image she is supposed to live up to--a one size fits all approach made up by the La Leche league mafia or some derivative thereof.

Adrienne and her husband dutifully hire a doula, a woman who is supposed to help the mother during the birthing process. Her doula is also a lactation consultant who will help her with breastfeeding. "All of my college-educated bohemian buddies--very few of whom, I must observe, actually had kids at that point--told me that breast is best and chicks who formula feed are wimps who don't care enough about their infant's health to put up with a little discomfort." During the childbirth, Adrienne feels that she cannot conquer pain like a "real woman" and "whimpers for an anesthesiologist" and feels like a coward, thinking that the doula and nurse see her as "weak and annoying." Who wouldn't feel that way, after listening to all of the bullshit this poor woman had put herself through prior to her delivery.

Later, when her baby has jaundice and is becoming badly dehydrated from a lack of fluids because of some trouble Adrienne is having breastfeeding, she does not want to take her doctor's advice to start formula and starts to "go on about how important I think breastfeeding is, about how much it improves IQ and overall health, about how it gives new moms a hormone lift and helps them lose the weight, about how I've been warned by my granola friends (none of whom have kids) that pediatricians are all in the pockets of the big formula companies and will push the stuff even though we all know breast is best."

It is no wonder after all the worry over being the "perfect mother" that Adrienne ends up in the mental ward of a local hospital in Knoxville believing herself to be a failure as a mother: "I'll drive myself to the emergency room, where I'll check myself into Tower 4, a local psych ward... I'll stay there for a better part of a week, bonding with my fellow loonies while someone else takes care of my brand new baby becasue I am a failure. New moms are supposed to be joy made flesh, yet motherhood and I met like a brick meets water, I am drowning here, not waving."

I have never understood the machismo that women put themselves, or worse, others, through to try to live up to some non-reachable standard regarding mothering and childbirth--but have you noticed all the while, these same women are the ones complaining bitterly about how some men are too macho. What's the difference?

And for women who tend to suffer from depression or mood disorders, the delusion of the perfect mother is more devastating, because the dichotomy between what they are able to do as a mother and what they perceive they should be doing is usually greater than for those women not suffering from these disorders. Therefore, their wish to be the perfect mom is more likely to come crashing down around them and result in an exacerbation of their postpartum depression.

As a psychologist, I have seen many more children in treatment because their mother was depressed and stressed out then I have seen kids who missed out on breastfeeding until college. Adrienne finally discovers this by the end of the book: Her daughter now "watches TV. She eats red dye and French fries and nonorganic produce, but generally not at the same time. The holier-than-thou mommy patrol, who believe in breastfeeding until college and growing their own organic flax, would be appalled. Which is fine, really, because they aren't much fun to hang out with in the first place. I can be perfect and completely insane or good enough and sane enough." Sometimes good enough is....enough.

107 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

DR. HELEN !

Whoa. Got it in for those Flaxseed oil Le Leche types eh ? (That hair down to their *ss is kinda sexy, no wonder they're always pregnant)

You should also take up the commentary over at Pajamas Media on the 51% not married based on your Podcast about male unwillingness to commit.

My wife was friends with one of the wealthiest families in the U.S., she lived in their third floor for a couple of years, as did an ongoing stream of their extended family favorites.

A very cool highly intelligent eccletic very wealthy family. So how did they have babies ? They had Dr. White show up at their mansion with the Nurse and Van full of Equipment in case they needed an emergency transport to the hospital.

Now wouldn't any woman want to do it that way if they could afford Dr. White ?
They had 14 or 15 kids so the breastfeeding solved itself by kicking the 2 year old off the breast when the next one came along. And the mother in addition to having an IQ of about 210 and a wee bit excentric, could have been a playboy model at 45. Some women do luck out at gene pool roulette.

So imagine, how my wife wants to give birth and mother having lived with this family.

We had a hair raiser with Number 2 but a good nurse midwife that got him birthed and breathing. He's in management now at one of those big Mutual Fund Companies.

Number four I finally got the wife to go to the hospital for, they had the homey wallpaper & curtains in the Birthing room, but the staff was so incompetant and the Dr. So late, I caught the baby before they got their act together.

So heh, to each his own.

#1 didn't nurse properly. We had a double smart pediactrician. Formula or raw goats milk. We lived in a smaller town then and the county Ag agent found me a nice Hobby goat herder, clean operation. We had plenty of raw goats milk (high fat like mothers milk), she continued to breast feed, until the next one kicked the first one off the breast, and so on and so on.

And the lovely and Talented Mrs. Econ-Scott does have a graduate degree.
And is somehow "revered for her mystical child rearing powers" among her peers.

It works sometimes, (money helps)

Econ-Scott

6:06 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger gemma said...

I love you Dr. Helen. Good enough is definitely enough.

6:26 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Donna said...

Good enough should be enough for everyone. Unfortunately, it isn't. I'd rather have a mother who gets help or uses formula or is Earth Mother incarnate and sane than another of the sorry examples so often seen in the news. My son had to have formula (due to my own health issues) and he's happy and healthy. Mothers should quit being so hard on those of us who do not conform the image of the Earth Mother Incarnate. Formula and the occasional television show do not make for a mentally deficient serial killer.

6:45 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger knoxwhirled said...

No doubt about it. Many women view motherhood as a big contest.

There's pressure to brave childbirth with the least possible professional medical assistance; to breastfeed for as long as possible; to make your own (organic of course) baby food... There's no end to the one-upsmanship in some circles. And all this doesn't even touch on the should you work or stay-at-home debate.

6:50 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Penny said...

So I guess I should thank my mom giving me such low expectations of what is required of a mother. It was pretty easy for me and my kids turned out great. I thought the requirements for being a good mother were:
1. Don't spend the grocery money at the liquor store.
2. Don't smack the kids around.
3. Actually like your kids.

So, thanks Mom! :-D

8:09 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked for several years as a nurse in a Maternity Ward. We had several "lactation consultants" that worked on the unit. We called them "nipple nazi's" for their"I am your intellectual better and don't you forget it"attitude with tired and frustrated new moms.

Debbie

8:14 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger lewy14 said...

As a psychologist, I have seen many more children in treatment because their mother was depressed and stressed out then I have seen kids who missed out on breastfeeding until college.

I resemble that remark!

8:17 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Kevin J. said...

The advice my wife and I got in our childbirthing classes at Parkwest 2 years ago (given specifically for the birthing process, but we have adapted it for rearing as well) is to pick the way you want things to go and plan for them not to go that way. My wife wanted to go natural but went for the epidural as soon as the pitocin (required because her water broke and she wasn't making any progress) kicked in. We had a doula who was incredibly supportive and whose presence I wouldn't have traded for anything in the world. And we worked our butts off for three days with a supplementary nursing system to get our son started breastfeeding, so at least we managed to do one thing the way we wanted it.

Good enough is enough, as long as you don't give up on the things that matter to you.

8:17 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.K. O.K.

Best One liner I ever heard. This actually occurred.

Woman: good gawd, look at that woman nursing that toddler, when will he ever be weaned from her ?

Woman's Husband, with Cheshire Cat Grin: When he start's dating

Woman smacks her husband upside the head.

He: still grinning, laughs at her.

Econ-Scott

8:23 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous JeanE said...

When I was feeling overwhelmed by the incessant advice from every direction about how to care for our first child, my husband brought home a cartoon that provided just the support I needed. The new mom in the cartoon, besieged by advice from books, TV and family, asks "Doesn't anybody think I know what's best for my own child?". In the last frame her husband walks in and replies "I do."

8:34 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger dadvocate said...

lewy14 stole my thunder. I never breast fed till college, but it was yummy.

I've seen the type many times, in birthing classes, nursery school, everywhere pregnant women or new parents congregate. One doesn't need to be a psychic to know there will be problems down the road for these mothers and fathers.

Penny above sums up the most important rules. My dietary guidelines for my kids consist of no chips or soft drinks around the house, plenty of milk with Ovaltine to make it taste good, and keeping a little fresh fruit handy. Nothing special.

But I wonder if there's an element of competitiveness in the perfect mother trap. Is it a "I'm going to be a great mother and have greater kids, greater than yours, greater than everyone's?" I certainly see that in a lot of parents in sports, music, academics, etc. And, some get pissy if other kids out perform their's.

Life may be a contest but it's probably not the one you think it is.

8:55 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger Quadraginta said...

Mmm, I imagine this is just rhetorical hyperbole, but as a psychologist I expect you know better than to assert this literally:

It is no wonder after all the worry over being the "perfect mother" that Adrienne ends up in the mental ward of a local hospital in Knoxville believing herself to be a failure as a mother.

No one ends up in a mental ward from excess worrying about being a perfect mother. You need a lot stronger underlying pathology than quotidian existential angst.

But I agree with your overall point, which is that that some women mercilessly beat up on others for not being motherly enough (or enough in a certain way).

But...is this so very different from the way teenage girls viciously beat up on each other for not being fashionable or cool enough? As the father of a teen male in high school and a teen female, I can tell you the females are lot nastier on deviation.

Frankly, I think it's just that intolerance of deviation from the groupthink is typical of females. Arguably this is by evolutionary design: as keepers of the norms, both biological and sociological, the female might do good for the tribe by being more vigilant than her adventuresome male counterpart.

Of course, this makes a joke out of the 21st century trope that females are more appreciate of "diversity." Nothing could be further from the truth. But then, sex being what it is, arguing to male power brokers that diversity is desirable would be a good strategy for females seeking influence; the males are truly less threatened by diversity, and the argument appeals to the male vanity that he can "handle" anything a woman proposes.

9:32 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Lana said...

I must concur with the above comment on the lactation specialists. Amazingly pushy people who can have even the most intelligent and sensible woman feeling like a dismal failure. My sister, an incredibly successful career woman, was browbeaten by these interfering ninnies at the hospital upon the arrival of her first child until I arrived to take over her care and assistance.

I merely stood at the door and told them if we needed to see them again I would let them know. Otherwise, go away!! After that, it was all good.

Interestingly, it is often the educated professionals who feel the need to actually listen to other "educated professionals" and fall into this trap.

My son, who dropped out of college and now works in pest control, taped a sign on his wife's maternity room door that said, "Stay out and leave us alone. We're sleeping and we're fine!"

The funniest part of all the above is that I have 5 kids, breastfeed them all, and had 3 at home with a midwife. When my sister and daughter-in-law thought to ask my opinions, I said "baby, get the drugs!!"

And they thought I'd be disappointed in them. Hell, no. Their happiness was always my first priority.

9:33 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger Mark in Texas said...

When trading "Gynismo" boasts about my wife I usually quote from the movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" by telling people She's little but she's strong. She didn't make no noise birthin' the babies and the little one come out sideways.

I truly wish that we had been better parents, but so far the kids seem to have turned out OK in spite of imperfect parenting.

10:01 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will just say: please, please feed your babies.

If you don't have enough breast milk, use formula too. It's better they should get formula than to go hungry. At that very young age. When they're still forming the most basic bonds with their mother.

Can you do that one little thing? Not deliberately withholding food from your tiny babies? Or is that too much to ask?

10:15 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dadvocate

One of the better reads in the last quarter century. Death by Suburb: How to Keep the Suburbs from Killing Your Soul http://www.amazon.com/Death-Suburb-Keep-Suburbs-Killing/dp/0060756705/sr=8-1/qid=1169090431/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-8985081-0750341?ie=UTF8&s=books"

For people who are "average" to "loser" in every other way our culture judges people, being "super-parents" with "exceptional kids" trumps all other endeavors in "the Burbs".

'splains alot of behaviour.

Econ-Scott

10:30 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous JKB said...

What I find perverse is the seemingly new mothers' unwillingness to take or seek advice from a real mother rather depending on clueless social workers instead. My aunt raised four kids, a wad of grandkids and was a pediatrician's nurse for 30 years. Yet, every new mother the extended friends and family rely on the "experts" rather than seek sage advice. Well, for a while, sooner rather than later practicality wins out. Finally, the new mother consults the real expert and strangely, life settles down for the new parents.

10:45 PM, January 17, 2007  
Blogger Mellow-Drama said...

I don't understand the hostility to LLL here. Most of my girlfriends nursed their toddlers for as long as they were both comfortable, and never went around telling other women they were doing the wrong things. They are laid-back gals who believe in doing things your own way and live and let live.

I strongly suspect that women who feel pressured to be the Super Mom - whatever their image of such a creature may be - largely bring it upon themselves. As several commenters have pointed out, these women are ubercompetitive re: their kids in every aspect (cupcake wars, anyone??) and were probably the same way throughout their lives. If you think you know what you're doing, you get some sound advice, and you aren't hurting the baby, why all the worry over what everyone else thinks? I think it's a sign of a larger problem that these crazed women want to blame their neurosis on "society" or their over-educated hippie "friends" - friends that pressure them into things they aren't comfortable with. If some woman lectures me and tells me she knows better than me about my baby, I either shrug it off or say Bitch step back! Why listen? It's like taking cancer treatment advice from a Christian Scientist. If you don't agree with their philosophy, then do what you think you should do. The real problem is women who are so caught up in keeping up with the Joneses, not women who choose one way over another.

11:11 PM, January 17, 2007  
Anonymous Svolich said...

There isn't much wisdom from Aerospace/weapons design that's applicable to child rearing, but I think this one is:

Perfection is the enemy of good enough.

These women are so obsessed with being perfect that they fail to be good enough. Breast feed all you can, give formula on top of it. Feed the baby, fer christsake!

12:42 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous tomcal said...

About a month ago I was in my favorite central american country with a group of american do-gooders. We met with a group of mothers in a rural village where the people have lived on fish and off the land for 500 years.

A Dr. in the group wanted me to gather up all the new mothers, which I did in the shade of a palm grove. As they sat there in a circle, each with a baby hanging off of a boob, he gave out some instructions on basic hygiene, which I dutifully translated. Then he asked me to tell them that they were doing the best thing for their babies that they could by breastfeeding them. They all looked at each other and started laughing. Finally one asked, "how else could we feed them?"

Just a story. No real point.

1:21 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The woman is a loon. I suspect that her problems began long before baby was a factor.

3:06 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it makes the woman who had to go to a mental ward feel better to put down those mothers who "breastfeed until college", go for it.

Her child will need all the help it can get, including royalties from mommy's hillbilly book. I hope she made a lot of money off this story; her child will need to compensate with money I suspect.

I read the other post, but now I wonder about mothers like helen and this other hillbilly. Why does it bother them so much that some continue to breastfeed a toddler? I think some women like to believe that life isn't fair, genes are a crap shoot. If their's are weak, they want other children raised like them. On packaged foods and formulas. It bothers them that other parents are capable of continued breastfeeding to supplement solid foods, bothers them that the tv is not a babysitter in all houses, that poorer parents get to spend more time with their children than those working and having professionals raise them.

If you can't buy a child's upbringing, if indeed it requires time, dedication, and sanity, those other mothers are "winning". That's why you have to cut down women who continue nursing, and who are supermothers, putting child before career, child before their own ego. No future business for helen from these kids, I bet.

4:29 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally one asked, "how else could we feed them?"

Just a story. No real point.


I think the point is affluence can become a disease in itself. There are some things you can't buy.

4:34 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the hostility to LLL here. Most of my girlfriends nursed their toddlers for as long as they were both comfortable, and never went around telling other women they were doing the wrong things. They are laid-back gals who believe in doing things your own way and live and let live.

I suspect helen was incapable of breastfeeding.

This is twice I've seen mothers nursing toddlers "attacked" on this blog. Both were in stories about mothers with mental health issues.

COMPROMISE: If you have mental problems affected by nursing, stop nursing. If not, continue on if it works for you and don't worry that some will say you are doing it to "compete" with other mothers. The motherhood bar has fallen in society, but that doesn't mean every mother has to adopt this new 21 century standard. It's ok not to work, ok to spend "too much time" with your child, ok to have no tv or junk food rules in your own home.

Also, it IS ok to nurse a toddler, who is being exposed to a solid food diet. Don't let the talk of educated women here put you off.

4:38 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS to new mothers:

Stay away from crap reading. Glenn used to write reviews for this woman and probably got the book free.

Who the hell wants to read a sad story about a "hillbilly" (her words) becoming a troubled mama? Sad for the child.

4:41 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the organic crowd has some merit. With their guidance (actually really Chinese Medicine) I was able to conceive naturally.

But you are so right about female machismo. Women love to romanticize motherhood and they are certainly very involved in building up the status of motherhood. One can never complain about pregnancy or parenting without losing their status as the ultimate mom. Be whatever way you want, organic or not, stay at home or not, kvetch-er or breast feeding goddess, just shut up about it. Every woman is different and so is every family.

Ali

5:08 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, just wanted to add that not all La Leche League chapters are didactic and hostile to nonbreastfeeders, but many are. I have many friends who have been devestated by their La Leche League meetings. It can sometimes be a bit cultish.

Ali

5:11 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think whoever brings it up -- pr-breastfeeding, or snarky remarks about the age of a child on another woman's teat -- is the macho competitor.

Here, it would be helen and the hillbilly author. Agree with ali that you should just shut up if another mother is practicing mothering in a way you disagree with. Even if it makes you feel inferior and you really really think her child should be weaned.

Then, you would not have so many mothers "hiding" the fact that they continue to nurse their child, well past the age that some professional women might not.

5:23 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you have ever seen the eyes of a child who has just successfully nursed, you will know your decision was worth it. No matter what the other mothers might tell you to do. But it doesn't make you crazy if you don't. That's victimist thinking -- "I would have been ok but for the societal pressures put upon me."

5:25 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Infantillism of the female brought about by second wave feminism; the theory goes that no matter what females do they cannot possibly rely upon their biological nature as this is the thing which restricts finding self.

The creation of the "Perfect Mother" is the feminists way of keeping females infantile.

7:25 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous rshea said...

It is cracking me up how some of the recent comments are actually proving the point of the article while intending to attack it. It is also cracking me up how all of those comments are "Anonymous."

My favorite is the lady who asserts that breastfed children won't be seeing psychologists because their mothers gave up their careers to breastfeed them. What a crock and what a perfect example of this false sense of martyrdom that some mothers need.

I am a lawyer, I am a stay-at-home mom, I love my kids and I breastfed both of them for exactly as long as I wanted to. Circumstances are different for every woman and people who judge moms for formula feeding and working are exactly the same types of nazis who judge women for staying at home.

Get a Life, Ladies. You are not validated by a toddler on your boob. Go Helen!

8:20 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rshea:
If you read the comments in order, then add on the post where Helen asked the question "Why is this woman still breastfeeding??" you will know who is on the offensive in these mommy wars. I have never met a breastfeeding mother who would ask "Why is your child not still breastfeeding" the way helen or the hillbilly mother purport.

As others have noted, this poor woman no doubt had many other troubles that led to her mental confinement than other "perfect" mothers who choose no tv, nursing, and no daycare for their own.

She chooses in our ever growing victim culture to be a victim of these other mothers. Whatever.

8:39 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you and helen think this applies to all mothers who choose to continue nursing:

You are not validated by a toddler on your boob. Go Helen!

I bet big Glenn wrote that to up the hits from his blog link. Indeed. This poor hillbilly child is just helping mama sell the book by creating a controversy. Mama v mama. Heh

8:42 AM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Helen said...

rshea,

My sentiments exactly!

Anonymous 8:39:

Yes, in my other post, I did mention a woman who ended up killing herself and her child because she was ill but would not take antidepressant meds because she did not want to stop breastfeeding her two-and-a half year old. Why? Because she wanted to be the perfect mother and feared she would hurt her child if she stopped breastfeeding. Do you really think that mentally ill women need to be fed a non-stop diet of "breastfeeding is best"? I don't. If more medical personnel, midwives, and doulas were trained in mental health, maybe they would tell such a mother to give herself a break and help her understand that breastfeeding is not the be all and end all of being a mother. Sure breastfeeding for some women is important, great, do it but all of the emphasis on breastfeeding for as long as possible is not always the best advice for everyone. And yes, the Le Leche league etc. does send the message to moms that "breast is best."

8:51 AM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Nick said...

"I have seen many more children in treatment because their mother was depressed and stressed out then I have seen kids who missed out on breastfeeding until college."

That was just a great line... I almost choked on my coffee when I read it put like that.

9:45 AM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

mellow wrote: "I strongly suspect that women who feel pressured to be the Super Mom - whatever their image of such a creature may be - largely bring it upon themselves."

My experience is quite different from yours. I would walk through a store with my wife when she was pregnant, and we would get questions and advice from strangers all the time. Take the conflicting, unrequested advice, through in some hormonal changes, brain changes in pregnancy (can you say 6% shrinkage, I thought you could) and normal worries of first time mom's who want to do a good job, and you have a pressure cooker.

Blaming the moms is inappropriate and a bit clueless in my opinion.

Trey

9:50 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous tomcal said...

Our kids are in their late teens. My wife breastfed them both.

I do recall that special look in their eyes after feeding; it meant that they were about to puke up a bunch of curdled milk all over you.

9:55 AM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

Anon wrote: "I suspect helen was incapable of breastfeeding.

This is twice I've seen mothers nursing toddlers "attacked" on this blog. Both were in stories about mothers with mental health issues."

Wow. My vote for the most inane post of the year. I know it is early yet, and we have tons more to go, but this one is a keeper.

You can tell when you hit somebody's hot button, they start talking about you like they know you!

For the record, some mom's are not able to breat feed for very long, some forever, and the people who think that long breast feeding makes for good mental health are moonbats with tits for brains.

Trey

10:02 AM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger knoxwhirled said...

You can tell when you hit somebody's hot button

Really. "Anonymous" has unwittingly revealed that he/she is the one with the problem.

10:52 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

helen said: Do you really think that mentally ill women need to be fed a non-stop diet of "breastfeeding is best"?

I agree with this anon said:
COMPROMISE: If you have mental problems affected by nursing, stop nursing. If not, continue on if it works for you and don't worry that some will say you are doing it to "compete" with other mothers. The motherhood bar has fallen in society, but that doesn't mean every mother has to adopt this new 21 century standard. It's ok not to work, ok to spend "too much time" with your child, ok to have no tv or junk food rules in your own home.

Also, it IS ok to nurse a toddler, who is being exposed to a solid food diet. Don't let the talk of educated women here put you off. a


You make a big controversy over two mothers with mental illnesses. Why?

11:13 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what Helen wrote in the Dec. 13 post that I remembered:

I don't give a rat's ass if some women want to breast feed a two and a half year old if they do not need medication etc. However, they should be prepared for other people to think it is getting to be a bit much.

9:56 AM

Tell me Trey who's buttons are being pushed (Helens perhaps?) and who is going on the offensive against women who choose to continue breastfeeding. It's a myth that these nursing mothers are in-your-face about it. A myth perpetuated by the Insta's (Helen in writing it, and Glenn in linking and promoting).

They are the ones creating the "controversy" to help sell victim books. No nursing mother I know would ever ask why another chose to wean when she did. For Helen, she is obviously judging those other mothers. I suspect her buttons were pushed, or perhaps it's not being pushed at all?

I don't give a rat's ass if some women want to breast feed a two and a half year old if they do not need medication etc. However, they should be prepared for other people to think it is getting to be a bit much.

9:56 AM

11:25 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. My vote for the most inane post of the year. I know it is early yet, and we have tons more to go, but this one is a keeper.

You can tell when you hit somebody's hot button, they start talking about you like they know you!

For the record, some mom's are not able to breat feed for very long, some forever, and the people who think that long breast feeding makes for good mental health are moonbats with tits for brains.


Trey, it's physical not mental health necessarily. The mother's milk provides not only antibodies, but can help supplement a good diet. Lots of "tits with brains" think so too.

Plenty of nutritionists believe that we don't need to supplement our diets with cows milk. If you can help get the fat in the diet by breastfeeding the early years, you can avoid later milk altogether. Like the reliance on yougurts, breastfeeding the young also has support in many immigrant communities.

I hope Helen rethinks her attitude that nursing mother should be prepared to catch flak about providing the best nutrition they can for their own children. You choose for yours, let others choose for their own.

And to echo others, no mother should continue breastfeeding if she thinks it causes her mental difficulties. Seek help, and let others take care of your child during your recovery time.

11:36 AM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with the "get a life" crowd here. Nursing is nice, but when you make a religion out of it you've gone crazy.

12:30 PM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Katherine said...

Thank you for covering the issue of the pressure women put on themselves as mothers. I think that's part of the reason I suffered PPOCD. I thought you might be interesting in checking out my blog on postpartum depression -- it's the most widely read blog in the U.S. on the topic. Postpartum Progress at http://postpartumprogress.typepad.com.

12:51 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Women should do what happy men do when getting advice from women - listen for quiet, turn on TV.

12:53 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breastfeeding is good if you can do it, but it should not take priority over your newborn baby getting enough to eat. We were fortunate enough with our two little ones to be able to breastfeed them both (the second one got topped off with a bit of formula on occasion), but I found the whole breastfeeding ideology way way over the top.

I can see how someone who is already suffering from post-partum depression, and for whatever reason is not able to breastfeed, does not need to be hammered on about this.

There is nothing wrong with formula, properly mixed (ie not overly diluted) and heated, if that is what works for you. It is certainly much better than dehydrating a newborn.

2:05 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous TMink said...

Let me begin by saying that it is difficult to respond to ANON because I do not know how many ANON exist. So if I conflate two anons, you know why.

Whose buttons are being pushed? The person who is making personal, unsubstantiated attacks and denying reality. Pushy breastfeeding advocates are not Sasquatch: They actually exist. I have met them. So have other people who have posted their experiences. So it is you I am referring to in terms of getting buttons pushed. You deny reality when you say that these people we have met and talked to do not exist. And then you insult someone and speculate about their ability to breastfeed. Do you know Helen? Were you there? For the record, I cannot breast feed. Does that take away my right to contribute to the discussion?

And who is trying to sell books? I have seen no ads for any books written by anyone on this blog.

And we all know and accept that breastfeeding is a good thing! We know about antibodies, we know about colostrum. We know and we accept. What we do not accept are foolish claims about breastfeeding or anything else for that matter!

We also criticize people who shame other people about things they either do not understand or are not a matter of importance. People will criticize Obama because he used cocaine. LOTS of us his age did. It is not important and we will criticize it. We are criticizing people who are bossy and shame women about how they choose or are able to mother.

Tits for brains was an expression referring to people who are CONSUMED (pun intended) with breastfeeding. (I was going to write something about breasts on the brain but then people would think I was talking about men.)

See, you totally missed the point of the original post. The post was NOT anti-breast feeding. It was against the shaming of mother's because of their decisions about or ability to breastfeed. These are different issues. Why do you conflate them?

Trey

2:40 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DR. HELEN !

So La Leche is over the top. So what. Free Country ya know. I understood you to say Glenn was better with babies ... so what ... Free country.

We don't persecute Communists or seemingly jihadists here either.

Dang you have it in for those gals and their Flaxseed oil too.

I would have thought by now you would have grown a thicker skin,

Or started a "National Pilot Program" in Hospitals to "Eductate the Nurses, Midwives, & doulas, whatever the H*ll they are, on "Mental Health Screening".

My wife's crazy period was the time between "transition" in labor, (when she yelled at me & socked me, -- I didnt' press charges)to the time the baby(s) quit nursing in total, a period of 8 years.

Is that part of a "National Mental Health Crisis" for young mothers, induced by LaLecheNazi's ?

Econ-Scott

3:53 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, you totally missed the point of the original post. The post was NOT anti-breast feeding. It was against the shaming of mother's because of their decisions about or ability to breastfeed. These are different issues. Why do you conflate them?

Because this post comes after another one about mentally ill women breastfeeding Trey. I remembered Helen had written negatively against mothers who continue to nurse their children while on solids. She wrote: I don't give a rat's ass if some women want to breast feed a two and a half year old if they do not need medication etc. However, they should be prepared for other people to think it is getting to be a bit much.

That last sentence confirmed the hostility of that 12/13/06 post to me. But my real question here is, "why was this woman still breast feeding a two-and-a half year old?"

If you read it, instead of focusing on the mentally ill woman's choice to nurse, many voiced negative opinions of mothers nursing older children. As did helen.

It's not for everyone. But to call these mothers "moonbats with tits for brains" shows to me who is being ultra-competive and fueling these "mommy" wars. Helen -- who is helping plug a book here.

Let's not find a pattern of mental illness, or competitivity, by those who choose something else for their child than you provide yourself. For whatever reason. It's the American way to be tolerant and open-minded, particularly in child rearing. Keep your nose out of others business. Unfortunately, these folks with the Rs plastered on their foreheads always think they know best... until it becomes time to prove it up. Then, they bitch and whine and moan about how they are just victims, trying to help others!

Indeed. Heh!

(And I hope helen and hubby are able to upgrade to a cigarrette boat next trip, fueled by this "controversy" about when a nursing mother should wean her children.)

4:22 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We also criticize people who shame other people about things they either do not understand or are not a matter of importance.

I'd be ashamed to write this Trey:
I don't give a rat's ass if some women want to breast feed a two and a half year old if they do not need medication etc. However, they should be prepared for other people to think it is getting to be a bit much.

Either that's a hostile attitude, buttons waiting to be pushed, or Helen is just a poor communicator. It seemed quite clear to me at the time, and then was reaffirmed in this post.

4:25 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All we're doing is giving Dr. Helen fodder for her book. And Glenn will review it. And like it. And link to it. Again. and Again. and Again.

4:59 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah but its fun to see how helen measures up sans links. Or comps.

Take this line: I met Ms. Martini once as she used to be the editor of Knoxville's alternative paper, The Metro Pulse, and did a review of my documentary, Six, before moving North to pursue other interests.

"Did a review" -- I love that.

I wouldn't worry. This era of bullshit is over. Folks are questioning on substance, and seeing who plays the victim card, and whose prognostications are credible on current events.

Indeed. Heh. Watch them try to scrub the Rs off their foreheads as more and more see through them However, they should be prepared for other people to think it is getting to be a bit much.

5:16 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The funny thing is I can think of a million other reasons that reviewer at the alternative paper may have had mental problems at the birth of her child.

Blaming them on nursing mothers or competition is just sad. Substance.

5:17 PM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

Anon 4:25

Nope, you're a poor reader. You read in.

All that says is Helen herself doesn't give a rat's ass, but the woman nursing a child until the age of 2.5 in this society should expect others in said society to think it is getting to be a bit much because it's outside the current norm.

Got that? A simple observation about this society and the dynamics therein.

Button, button, who's go the button?

5:23 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Penny said...

About nursing toddlers: sometimes there's a reason. One of my kids was allergic to everything. Anything but breast milk made her throw up or get a rash. So I nursed her till she was three, when she finally started tolerating soy milk and hippy stuff like mashed organic beans and fruit. I grew up in a meatloaf and boxed potatoes family, so learning how to get enough nutrition into her was a real learning experience for me.

This is the same kid who still breaks out in hives occasionally for unknown reasons and gets rashes if she eats processed food. Fortunately she lives in berkeley where people are indulgent enough to accomodate her.

Anyway, sometimes there's a real reason. It's probably rare, but it happens.

5:42 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but the woman nursing a child until the age of 2.5 in this society should expect others in said society to think it is getting to be a bit much because it's outside the current norm.

Why the judgement ladies?

Maybe keep your nose in your own business, and mind your own children? If you don't want to fuel the competition helen, keep your judgemental thoughts, on behalf of society norms, to yourself in the future?

Otherwise it looks like you are cherrypicking your cases of nursing mothers who have mental illnesses because of societal pressures.

It may help sell "dysfunction" books and up your blog hits, but it doesn't really help women any. Plus, someday maybe people will choose to judge your personal choices against society's norms.

6:01 PM, January 18, 2007  
Blogger Bane said...

Breast IS best, and I speak as a father of six kids, who pays attention. That out of the way, you gotta roll with the punches, and do what is best for the baby. And too many Dads are distant, instead of supportive, ditto with other family members. At the most desperate time of her life, awash in a hormonal maelstrom, in pain, at the cusp of a forever-change, the poor woman (women) are left alone to deal with a completely helpless human being, they, as Mother's, closely approximating such themselves.

My Dad breastfed til he was 5 (The Depression, dontcha know) and my kids weaned themselves at or before 2. My sister had to drink liquid Jello (1959) in her bottles...doctor's orders. Breast milk tastes terrible in coffee. Trust me.

But argument is always amusing. Please, continue...

8:31 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Arguing is not only amusing, it is profitable. Trolls posting comments funds vacays and surely Mrs. Instapundit is blogsavy enough to know that attacking breastfeeding is a surefire way to generate traffic.

I don't judge women who change to bottles because they have difficulties breastfeeding, but I do believe the medical studies that show the "breast is best" for the child. I do recognize that what is best for a baby is not not always convenient for mom and dad. Oh well, if you don't want to be inconvenienced by a baby, get a dog instead.

Just out of curiosity, if a woman chooses to breast feed her child until he is 2.5 and must prepare herself for others to think it is "a little much," then ought not women who begin to bottle feed their babies almost immediately prepare themselves for others to think that's a little... less?

Also out of curiosity, if Glenn shills for a diet book encouraging adults to eat unprocessed, natural foods, why wouldn't you be more supportive of women using breastmilk instead of formula as their toddlers progress to solid foods? I hope you have reasons other than this single article.

9:23 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous:

(And I hope helen and hubby are able to upgrade to a cigarrette boat next trip, fueled by this "controversy" about when a nursing mother should wean her children.)

You have a point there.

Dr. Helen may look and sound really smart, but maybe it's really just about that corrupting vacation in the keys.

Next she'll be owning Halliburton stock, and investing in Phillip Morris.

Nah, InstaProf would move out if she did that. (for about a week until he got lonely)

But if she bought Smith & Wesson or H&K Stock he'd give her an "atta-girl".

Econ-Scott

11:04 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plenty of nutritionists believe that we don't need to supplement our diets with cows milk. If you can help get the fat in the diet by breastfeeding the early years, you can avoid later milk altogether. Like the reliance on yo(u)gurts, breastfeeding the young also has support in many immigrant communities.

Remember, those same nutritionists, invented "TANG" for the Astronauts and are still taking royalties for promoting it on TV as good for your kids.

9 out of ten dentists disagree.

Econ-Scott

11:09 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous tomcal said...

I am so proud and happy that we live in a country affluent enough so we can take time to entertain ourselves by telling others how to feed their children.

Another issue of huge importance came up in my office today. Is the toilet paper supposed to hang off of the front or the back of the roll?

11:48 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Lana said...

Wow! This certainly got weird, hostile, and creepy.

Which only proves the holier-than-thou mommies actually exist, charging around like Robert Conrad daring anyone to knock that battery, er, baby off their shoulder. Loser Mommy. I spent years in their midst. The post wasn't exactly about breastfeeding, in any case. It was about perfection killing the good, right?

So you betcha. There are mothers out there who want to lecture, push, and shame other mothers into compliance with their personal ideal of motherhood. AND some women actually get just a little overwhelmed having to deal with it, what with the new baby and all.

Miss Anon, she of the countless posts, just proved Helen's point. Congratulations!

11:59 PM, January 18, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny Lana. I agree with the commenters who said Helen should MYOB on what is "too much" or "too little" for other mothers to provide their child.

I like the man whose father breastfed up to age 5, supplemented by solids. It's not strange or uncomfortable (teeth) or in-your-face to other mothers who might for whatever reason be carrying chips on their shoulders. (Loser Mommy. I spent years in their midst. )

Society has nothing to fear from the majority of moms who nurse and bond with their children. Most don't have mental problems, and as many have pointed out -- the mental problems of course were present before the pressures of modern motherhood took hold. Blaming nursing mothers for your own mental problems is sad. Even if it sells a lot of books or brings in blog hits.

As for this:
There are mothers out there who want to lecture, push, and shame other mothers into compliance with their personal ideal of motherhood. AND some women actually get just a little overwhelmed having to deal with it, what with the new baby and all.

No doubt you're going to face a lot of pressure raising a child. From society and the child itself. Work with overwhelmed mothers then, to deal with this pressure, instead of blaming other women. If you can't stand up to this kind of pressure, maybe you should wait to have a child until you can? Because it won't end withe the nursing issue, sorry to say.

On to that toilet paper hanging discussion referenced above?

6:18 AM, January 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, homemade yogurt is an excellent choice for children's diets once they are weaned. I'm not pushing it on anyone, just correcting Scott above who compared it to Tang. I suspect he's thinking of the little cartons with sugar added.

Like much in this post, the true facts are a bit off.

6:22 AM, January 19, 2007  
Blogger Pete the Streak said...

Good grief, Anonymous! Use a name. Stand behind your voluminous postings.

6:56 AM, January 19, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt there is more than one person posting anonymously, "Pete the Streak". That happens when you allow the choice to post as anonymous, more than one person hits the button.

If you think about it though, who's more likely to be competitive? The stereotype long-haired stay-at-home mother with no tv who homeschools her kids with the old testament biblical names... or the fast-weaning mother who is in the daily world of competition and commerce? That first group retreats from rather than picks a fight just to make a stand on the issue. The other group knows how the game is played, and is more likely to play competitively and push the offense.

Also, for those who have had bad experiences with "X" (here some LLL representatives, which many nursing mothers aren't part of the organized end of it)... Do you work this logic in other ways in your life? If you had bad experiences with dark-skinned people, would you hold this against the whole group?

If not, why would you think it's ok to say dismissive things against nursing mothers because you've had bad experiences with some. Not all are like that so dont judge from too small a sample size. Not all women are validating through their child and it's ignorant to think it.

It's really like private education. Respect. Yes, some think it's better, superior. That's why they choose to sacrifice to provide it for their child. Just because they think this way doesn't invalidate your choice of education for your child. You may think public is just as good. They are dumb for thinking private is better. That's your option too. Both can walk away thinking their child got the better end of the deal, based on what the parent could provide.

8:50 AM, January 19, 2007  
Anonymous Ralph Phelan said...

"how I've been warned by my granola friends (none of whom have kids) that pediatricians are all in the pockets of the big formula companies "

Sounds like she had some preexisitng "issues" with her judgement/decision making abilities.

"Just out of curiosity, if a woman chooses to breast feed her child until he is 2.5 and must prepare herself for others to think it is "a little much," then ought not women who begin to bottle feed their babies almost immediately prepare themselves for others to think that's a little... less?"

Well, of course. Duh. This world contains lots of people with lots of different ideas, and different levels of tact/pushiness/ability to MYOB. So it's pretty much guaranteed that WHATEVER you do in life, somebody somewhere is gonna disagree with it and give you grief. Deal with it.

Those who are unable to deal with it wind up in mental hospitals.

11:30 AM, January 19, 2007  
Blogger TMink said...

OK, the judge has returned. Her verdict: ANON is just a troll.

Sentence: being ignored.

Case dismissed.

Trey

11:30 AM, January 19, 2007  
Anonymous Jim said...

Some observations:

1)Thank God for the women on this thread and their common sense. It is so encouraging.

2) Things used to be easier and simpler. Kids breast fed for years because it was the only clean or adequate food available. Period. Besides, it kept the mom infertile and let her body recover.

Also "At the most desperate time of her life, awash in a hormonal maelstrom, in pain, at the cusp of a forever-change, the poor woman (women) are left alone to deal with a completely helpless human being," EXACTLY. In the old days when mothers were all 14 or 15 most of the time they were never alone for a moment and never left to make any decisions about anything, especially how to care for a newborn. Grandma/mother-in-law was on them continually. That is nothing to go back to; having kids at 14 is too high a price to pay for anything, but there were some beneifits ot that arrangement.

The cooment above about the mom's pre-existing probelms was on the the money - the problem is cultural. This nonsense is the natural result of Puritan utopianism. Every aspect of society and life in general, even motherhood, can be improved and corrected indefinitely. So we end up with this neurotic nonsense. If cats and dogs can figure out how to lactate and nurse their young, why do humans need to hire consultants?

11:48 AM, January 19, 2007  
Anonymous Karen from San Diego said...

Hmmm. While I agree with the basic premise that there is an inordinate amount of pressure to be "perfect," I did have a difference of opinion on a few of the postings, namely the negative bias against lactation consultants and the "breast is best" concept, doulas, and all things holistic or natural. We had a doula and a birth plan, both scheduled, printed, practiced and ready to roll, but because Katie was breach, they were unused and I was more than happy to have a C-section. (FYI, there was NO discussion of having a natural no-drugs delivery. I would have asked for my epidural in my first trimester if they would have let me.)

Having been through a very tough patch there at the beginning until I started taking meds for my postpartum depression, I can honestly say that having a GOOD lactation consultant was invaluable in my ability to make a rational decision to pump as long as I did (I pumped exclusively for over a year) and keep the formula to a reasonable minimum, as needed, but not give up because pumping was a pain. It was a real sacrifice, both financially and time-wise for over a year, but I don't regret it even a tiny bit. I really do think that it made a big difference in Katie's intelligence, proportionate weight, tall height, energy level, lack of serious illness, and in many other areas.

By the way, it was the good lactation consultant that figured out that Katie wasn't getting any milk when she breastfed - not the first lactation consultant, not the obstetrician, not the nurse, and not the pediatrician. If it wasn't for her, Katie would have gotten sicker, more dehydrated, and fussy until we would have had to take her to the hospital, had I kept with the "no formula" plan. She encouraged me to pump, but also convinced me that formula wasn't evil, it's just not as good as breast milk if you have breast milk available.

While I don't consider myself to be a "granola mommy," I did have some preconceived notions that have completely gone out the window, and others that have held on to this day making me feel like a bit of a crusader. I bought only organic baby food from the health food store, try not to give her too much sugar, encourage others to breastfeed or pump for as long as possible if they can't breastfeed, don't let her watch commercial tv, don't buy her all the character crap advertised everywhere (I don't even think she knows who Mickey Mouse is, for pete's sake!), try to avoid junk/fast food as much as humanly possible, etc.

That being said, I've been known to plop her in front of educational tv while I get ready for work, feed her chicken fingers from Jack in the Box if we're out and she's hungry, buy her Elmo dolls, Nemo sippy cups, Hello Kitty toothbrushes and Groovy Girls backpacks, and even let her eat cookies for breakfast if that's all she'll eat before we rush out to school. I ditched the idea of making my own baby food, but do make her lunch with rotisserie chicken, plain yogurt and brown rice instead of processed food. I abandoned the thought of banning sugar and snacks, and instead live with the philosophy of moderation - realizing that one Junior Mint isn't going to kill her. And if I can't get her to eat real fruits and veggies, I at least try to get her to eat applesauce and sweet potatoes from a jar.

At some point she'll understand that I'm doing the best I can to get home from work before 7 at night, but sometimes I do feel guilty for not being a stay at home mom. So I compensate by rocking her to sleep every night instead of letting her crawl into her bed. I let her have the cookie she wants before dinner, because I know that it's important to pick your battles, and fighting over a cookie just isn't worth the struggle. I comb her hair most mornings, but sometimes I realize that going to school with a sloppy ponytail is ok if it means we get to snuggle for five more minutes. And I've completely abandoned the idea of keeping a neat house, because if it comes to a contest between spending precious time with Katie or vacuuming, Katie wins every time.

Being a perfect mom doesn't mean I have to have a perfect house or perfect stay at home life, just a perfectly loveable kid.

2:58 PM, January 19, 2007  
Anonymous bugs said...

If I were a nursing mother - and I'm not saying I am, mind you - I would make it a rule not to suckle anyone I can have a conversation with.

3:04 PM, January 19, 2007  
Anonymous Jim said...

Karen,

You makemsome good points. maybe we both agree on the doula. In the past a new mother would have been surrounded by lactation consultants, and this advice was probably pretty sound.

My grandmother said that she had always heard that beer was good for nursing mothers, and then later I heard that hops is a good source of estrogens (Does it reduce the risk of heart attack?).

I guess my commnet about dulas was not so much about doulas as about the trendiness of hiring someone with an exotoc and trendy title to tell you someothing that ought to be part of your own folklore. But then it would have to in fact be part of your folklore, wouldn't it?

3:33 PM, January 19, 2007  
Blogger forgetfulmuse said...

I completely agree about the concept of being good enough, but I take issue with a few things here.

Some of us practice child-led weaning because we think it's best, not to feel superior. My first baby was born at 32 weeks and I had to pump in order for her to have my/her milk. (Incidentally, mothers of preemies produce higher-fat milk, which shows how milk is tailored to individual babies). I pumped for 3 months and almost gave up a couple of times; I even started mixing formula in with her milk, much as I hated doing it. Even so, I couldn't stop pumping - it had been the one thing I could do for her while she was in the hospital for 3 weeks - and she caught on eventually (she's 3 and a half now and still nursing, her sister is 15 months and also nursing, and yes, this means I nursed through a pregnancy).

My point is that I didn't keep going because of 'pressure' or anything external - in fact, if I read anything about how terrible formula is I just thought "get bent" (that's the polite version) and did what I had to do. My reasons for not giving up were mostly gut reaction and knowing instinctively that my milk was best for my child.

I also suffered from post-partum depression, and I decided to take medication and continue to breastfeed. I figured my daughter didn't need a depressed mom and that whatever small amount of Zoloft wound up in my milk was the lesser of three evils (depressed mom, drugged milk or formula).

Sometimes I do get sick of nursing - most moms do - but most of us also get sick of cooking dinner, changing diapers, doing laundry, y'know? It's not martyrdom, and it does foster a closeness that is easy and rewarding. This tired old "breastfed until college" refrain is just not very witty. Heard it a million times and it says more about the one who says it (like most snide remarks) than those of us who breastfeed our older children. The people I've known who practice child-led weaning - including LLL leaders - are not crazed organic hippy-nazis; in my experience, this is a myth that makes for a convenient antagonist for those with an ax to grind. That it’s such a caricature should cause alarm bells to go off, and I’m surprised that Dr Helen includes such driveling nonsense to invade her good judgment. Yes, the hillbilly book woman has a point, but with mental illness running in her family presumably long before the fairly recent advent of readily available lactation consultants and doulas, it is foolhardy to snarkily blame them for her descent into madness.

For the record, the WHO suggests a minimum of two years of nursing, as does the Canadian Pediatric Society. The world average age of weaning, if you take us out of it, is 7 years. With our pitifully poor rates it's still 4 years. While this isn't going to be for everyone, I think those of us who choose this path could at least be given the benefit of the doubt as far as our intentions and sanity go.

11:03 PM, January 19, 2007  
Blogger tomcal said...

forgetfulmuse:

I think I mentioned in a different thread that if push came to shove, regardless of the morality, I would ultimately use whatever technology offered to...

Oh never mind, I don't want to be accused of being hard hearted.

Good for you. I hope you and your children live long happy lives, and that a thousand years from now your decisions will have made the world a better place.

11:28 PM, January 19, 2007  
Blogger forgetfulmuse said...

Well tomcal, it's obvious isn't it. The toilet paper should hang over the front of the roll.

I should have said that I'm also stubborn, which probably helped with the pumping (and trust me, unless you're a masochist, pumping is not fun) around the clock, every 3-4 hours. Also, messing around with bottles is a pain in the butt (and no, I wasn't using them wrong). Breastfeeding co-sleepers are lazy.

But seriously, if you're not prepared for a bit of discomfort, you're not prepared for parenthood! And thanks - making the world a better place in some small way is my vague goal in life.

11:46 PM, January 19, 2007  
Anonymous Lana said...

Anon,

Yes. You are right and I'll put off child-rearing until I have it all figured out.

Bwahahahahaha! With just my 5 kids, ranging in ages from 23 to 13, I'll be sure to check in and ponder what you think might be best. Or not. And please throw the breastfeeding card, the at home mother card, the homeschool card, or even the home birth card. I have 30 days worth of meals in the freezer, sweetie. I triple dog dare ya.

And, my name is Lana. I have a website. If you wish to spout all of this, pony up and say your name.

3:36 AM, January 20, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who is the one sounding competitive now Lana? Say, did you get a trophy for each of those 5 children? Extra point for 5 in 10 years? Did they validate you since you're bringing them up here to bolster your argument? Is it really true that the brain shrinks each time you birth? lol

MYOB, and let others do the same. Looking forward to the next competitive motherhood post here.


Yes. You are right and I'll put off child-rearing until I have it all figured out.

Bwahahahahaha! With just my 5 kids, ranging in ages from 23 to 13, I'll be sure to check in and ponder what you think might be best.

And, my name is Lana. I have a website.

6:26 AM, January 20, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

several points here, theres the idea that breastfeeding is best for everyone, it isnt, there can be medical reasons, psychological reasons, cultural. but when you tell people they have NO CHOICE but to breast feed, thats when it gets to be too much.

you have nurse in's in some stores, you have people taking out their breasts in public, where some people may not want to see or hear it. (not everyone likes to see it).. but its when breastfeeding goes beyond a certain point, i have see documentaries about 7 year olds breastfeeding.. which i find to be sick.

the 2nd thing is, what does it matter that dr Helen gets income from posts. its got nothing to do with you, this is her blog, her choice her decision.. does she make less sense because she gets a little income on the side from it. NO what she says would be equally valid so those who object to her earning something.

the 3rd is the as other posters put the holier than thou attitude they give to parents who cant or wont b/f, the child free(we will change our minds, etc), and its mostly mothers who state these comments. parents are making their kids into insecure people by PRESSURING them to excel at everything, when in the real world, we know not everyone is good at everything.

7:34 AM, January 20, 2007  
Anonymous tomcal said...

forgetfulmuse:

Regarding WHO policies on breastfeeding:

It is my belief that those policies are aimed at third world mothers, who back in the 50's and 60's were the target of advertising campaigns by baby formula makers. The WHO goal was simply to stop poor mothers from wasting scarce resources on baby formula when their own milk was just fine. At the time, limited resources were being use to buy baby formula rather than medicines to treat illnesses in the third world. In addition, mothers going off the boob became fertile sooner in general, creating more babies and compounding the problem.

So regardless of your position in the breastfeeding debate, recognise that the WHO's motivations are far different from LLL's.

1:05 PM, January 20, 2007  
Anonymous tomcal said...

Also, I have spent an awful lot of time in third world countries working with the poorest of the poor. I have seen a lot, but I have NEVER seen a breastfeeding 7 year old. The kids do start breastfeeding again, although not from mother to child, at about age 14 to 16.

1:14 PM, January 20, 2007  
Anonymous tomcal said...

Maybe that's what pulls the average up, especially if whomever did the survey was not a native speaker and somehow misinterpereted the answers they got to the questions they asked!

1:20 PM, January 20, 2007  
Anonymous br549 said...

Perhaps I hold my parents (both long gone) on a pedestal. I loved them both dearly, and will always miss them. I am also the bungling father of three of my own children, who I love far beyond anything I could ever begin to explain.
Safe to say everyone here can say the same. I certainly hope so.

My parents made mistakes, sure. They were born and lived through the depression and were both in the military (they met there) during the second world war (up front and personal) and beyond. I wonder what those very frightening times would have done to my thinking, who I would have become.

I was bottle fed. Perhaps explaining my unwavering fascination of and for.... never mind.

Were I trained in journalism, I am certain I could write a book on what NOT to do as a parent. I am painfully aware of every mistake, every time I repeat it. My now ex wife breast fed our children (her very own choice) and bottle fed as demand exceeded supply, and was able and happy to be at home. That's our business. Our children, all in their 20's now, are pretty well adjusted and are wonderful. I think my mom was a super mom. I think my ex was a super mom. Meaning they did the best they could do, and that's super.

1:32 PM, January 20, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

i dont know if i was bf or not, and quite frankly it doesnt matter.., you are the person you are, nothing more and nothing less, you cannot say for a fact that breast milk makes a kid well adjusted, or not, unless you have twins and do a simple one with one without.. as everyones experience is different. if i was bottle fed does it make me any less of a human, am i able to sue my parents for depriving me the chance to be well adjusted..

mothers should be there for their kids, and the male figure in their kids life (whether its an uncle a cousin or brotheror father), and they shouldnt force their kids to do things they may not want to do, just to beat the mother next door. luckily my mother has always told me to be myself, and if i was interested in this or that she was behind me.. she didnt pressure me, push me. and i turned out pretty ok.. if i do say so myself.

3:21 PM, January 20, 2007  
Blogger forgetfulmuse said...

mercurior,

Breastfeeding is, in the vast majority of cases, best for babies, that’s the point. Being uptight about it in a culture that fetishizes the female breast doesn’t change basic biology.

I understand you feel that breastfeeding a larger child is 'sick', but this does seem to be a visceral response. While you’re entitled to your feelings, you might want to explore why you feel so strongly about someone’s choice to do this. Milk teeth generally fall out around age 7, and this is no mistake. It is also a fact that while out culture has evolved a lot, our biology has remained pretty much what it was at the dawn of humanity. Humans are in fact biologically programmed for what has become known as “extended” breastfeeding. (It would be more appropriate to refer to what we commonly do in our culture as “truncated breastfeeding”).

While it may be true that no one is seeing a shrink for the overt reason that he wasn’t “breastfed until college”, I think people do have a lot of attachment disorders that they see shrinks for and that they stem from the poor parental attachment that is inevitable with practices such as leaving babies to cry and premature weaning. I think you’ll find that people who have been breastfed longer do not display any particular neurosis or what have you that is a direct result of the breastfeeding alone. In fact, the opposite tends to be true, and if they do feel anything negative about it, I would tend to think that was at least in part due to the cultural perception of it as abnormal or sick, or something to be ashamed of.

It seems sick to you (and most people in western industrialized nations) because you are not used to it. You may not care to see breastfeeding in public, but I don't care to see people's butt cracks hanging out of their jeans, or pukey couples fawning over each other in restaurants, or billboards with prepubescent girls dressed up as hookers, or the tacky thug look, or little girls dressed head to toe in burka-like garments while their brothers wear Nike shorts and t-shirts (yes, I’ve seen this on my own street), but that's just too bad isn't it. You don't have to look. Most breastfeeding moms are pretty discreet about it anyway, and most of us aren’t exhibitionists. But either way, you can’t disallow something like this because some people don’t like it.

None of this is said as a criticism of those who honestly cannot breastfeed (of which there is a small percent, and those mothers needn’t feel guilty or inferior) or of those who gave it their best effort and for one reason or another couldn’t manage it, but I don’t think we should all shut up and hide to save a mother who has chosen formula for convenience feeling guilty.

I wonder, what is wrong with taking one’s role as a mother seriously and with finding fulfillment there?

I think there is a lot of misunderstanding on this topic. No one is breastfeeding their 4 year-old all day or even everyday. For the record, I thought breastfeeding a 2 year-old was pretty weird before I had kids of my own, and I don’t think my experience is uncommon.

Anyway, if you don’t believe me and want a more credible source, try this: http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html

6:37 PM, January 20, 2007  
Anonymous Trey said...

forgetfulmuse wrote: "While it may be true that no one is seeing a shrink for the overt reason that he wasn’t “breastfed until college”, I think people do have a lot of attachment disorders that they see shrinks for and that they stem from the poor parental attachment that is inevitable with practices such as leaving babies to cry and premature weaning."

You don't get it do you? 10% of the posts have been about how everyone knows breastfeeding is good, and you are still defending breastfeeding against non-existatant attacks.

Next you blame attachment disorders on early weaning. What is next, global warming? The Palestenian problem? Childhood obesity? Or should we just find some "issue" getting enough press and blame it on nonorthodox lactation practices?

You folks are nothing if not predictable. Face it: it is not all about the boob.

Trey

11:37 AM, January 21, 2007  
Anonymous tomcal said...

Trey said: "Face it: it is not all about the boob."

I beg to disagree. As I go through life, I probably focus more on boobs than any other single aspect of human existence. Boobs always get my attention, and distract me from whatever else I am doing at the moment.
I've tried to overcome this for years, but I fear I am a hopeless case.

3:09 PM, January 21, 2007  
Blogger Mercurior said...

to me breastfeeding is like any natural thing, sometimes in public it isnt a good thing.

no one wants to see me take a dump in public, thats a natural function.. why have breast feeding forced upon people, why cant they use a pump to express milk if they go out, why not use a towel. the reason why these OBVIOUS breastfeeders do it, not because its natural but they want the world to see it.. if i go an nuzzle my g/f breasts in public.. i would be arrested.. to me thats natural.. why is it so different when mothers do it.. are you saying mothers are superior to everyone else and they dont have to take notice of manners. i bet the minority of public breastfeeding is done in an obvious way..,


there is such a thing as forcing your motherhood issues into the public.

as for your information, i wasnt saying it was bad, or good, it has NO relationship to a good kid or a bad kid.. if you had read what i said.. you will notice i didnt say it was necessarily a bad thing, just irrelevant.

i quote me
***
you cannot say for a fact that breast milk makes a kid well adjusted, or not, unless you have twins and do a simple one with one without.. as everyones experience is different. if i was bottle fed does it make me any less of a human, am i able to sue my parents for depriving me the chance to be well adjusted
***

would you breastfeed a kid when they were 1, or 2, or 4, or 7, or older.. at what point or isnt there a point when breast feeding becomes pedophilia..

3:18 PM, January 21, 2007  
Anonymous br549 said...

From the little I know, postpartum depression can be devastating. Mental illness, permanent, temporary, whatever...can come out of the blue, be financially destructive, destroy families, destroy an individual's (the sufferer's) life, and leave their loved ones confused walking wounded. It's frightening to see it happen. The worst realization is the one when you finally know there is absolutely nothing you can do. You can't give a kidney, a lung, half your brain. And you'd give anything.

I have been blessed to have truly been in love with, and loved by, the woman I was married to, for as long as it lasted. God, she was special.

5:44 PM, January 21, 2007  
Blogger forgetfulmuse said...

Silly man, tits are for kids.

9:37 PM, January 21, 2007  
Blogger Nancy said...

I have a live-and-let-live attitude toward breast-feeding (yep, nursed my son for one year, worked out well for us, loved that pre-puke little glazed-eye look and all) and I have friends who nursed on demand till their kids were four or five. I think the point of this post, as so many have pointed out, is the competitiveness of the mommy wars (not just the mommy wars between stay at home and between work-outside-the-home moms and I have been both.)

But hey, what about that battle to get the little snipper into The Best College? Now THAT is where you see competitiveness run amok. My son's in 8th grade and it's already starting...

8:56 AM, January 23, 2007  
Blogger serket said...

Interestingly, I am going to start reading a children's book tonight called "The Midwife's Apprentice."

6:52 PM, March 23, 2007  
Blogger serket said...

My first cousin just had her first baby. Apparently, breastfeeding was a challenge for her. Our second cousin just had her second baby and so she gave my cousin advice and apparently it really helped her.

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