My chiropractor recently told me his wife was going to “quit” breastfeeding their 8-month-old son soon. I had a visceral reaction to his comment, but I couldn’t pinpoint why it bothered me so much. At first I thought I was put off by him sharing too much information, but then I realized I didn’t like how he referred to weaning.
What did he mean by “quitting”?
I finally figured out what was bothering me after talking to my husband about the weird interaction with the chiropractor. He used the word “quit.” There are so many instances where men totally intrude on and discount the difficulty of experiences that are unique to women, but pregnancy and breastfeeding are the big winners.
Breastfeeding is already a sore subject for me. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know I’m “still breastfeeding” my 14-month-old daughter. Things are going fine, except that I hate pumping at work to keep my supply up. (*NOTE: This is not a plea for advice on how to wean or support for stopping the work pumping sessions. I’m doing it because I still can, and that’s that.) However, to this day, I would say breastfeeding has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.
I’ve definitely wanted to “quit” breastfeeding.
I truly believe most moms out there are doing the best they can with the resources they have. No one in my family exclusively breastfed, and in fact, many of the women in my family stopped because they were convinced they “couldn’t do it.” This meant that when I had tough days, the women I knew just told me to “give up” or “quit” or “just give her a bottle [of formula].” I had no support group for the first 10 weeks of my daughter’s life. Until I started going to La Leche League meetings, I had no one to talk to about clogged ducts, clamping, shallow latch, or low milk supply. I felt like I was doing everything wrong. Like I was alone. Maybe my family was right, and I should just “quit” like they did.
I say all of these because there are so many reasons women stop breastfeeding, and all of those reasons are okay. Ultimately, I decided to continue breastfeeding, which is a decision I still have mixed feelings about. I am “still breastfeeding” my 14 month old, and I love the closeness, but it’s tough! She has 10 teeth now, including molars, and babies nurse for more than just food. So, I don’t get out much because with each tooth or illness or anything out of the ordinary, my daughter wants to nurse (in addition to the nursing she does for food). In the end, I just want this relationship to run its course, and I don’t want anyone to tell either of us when it’s time to “quit.”
What would I have done in improv class?
Still, I never feel like I have the right words. I need to work on taking skills from improv and applying them to life. In an improv scene, you just say whatever your reaction is, and you justify it if you need to. In improv class, I would have probably screamed, “It’s called weaning!” and punched him in the face. However, my husband asked me how I could have responded in real life, and the more I though about it, the more I wished I had something like, “Why don’t you take your wife out to a nice dinner, congratulate her for breastfeeding for 8 months (which is longer than many people do it), and tell her you appreciate her hard work and sacrifices for your family?”
Instead, I did my usual introverted, non-confrontational thing. I stopped seeing that chiropractor. I just cannot support businesses who don’t really support women and their parenting choices. So, now I see a female acupuncturist for my pinched nerve, and I’m already feeling a lot better.
I guess the moral of this story is that women make so many sacrifices and wear so many hats and still go very much unappreciated. If you know someone who has recently decided to wean (a/k/a stop breastfeeding), do something nice for them. Tell them you appreciate them, and buy them a drink!