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Miscommunication, It Happens to the Best of Us

By Nichole |

Yesterday, my post, One Parenting Choice that I Just Cannot Understand, had the exact opposite response that I hoped it would.

I had to go back and reread my post several times because what I thought I wrote and what so many people read seemed so vastly different.

Here’s where I went wrong, I think…

If I had published my post over on in these small moments, where those who regularly read my words know me, they would have known that I would never intentionally hurt anyone.

Those readers would have given me the benefit of the doubt because they’ve read so many of my posts that they have a fuller understanding of who I am.

But, so many of you who read my words here haven’t yet had a chance to see who I am, so my words were read in isolation.

I hope to one day reach the point here on Babble where I’m given that same benefit of the doubt. I invite you to look back through my archives here to get a better sense of who I am. I’d love to get to know you better as well.

I want to clarify a few things about what I wrote yesterday.

My post was truly an invitation to a dialogue. I don’t believe anyone owes me an explanation at all. I was inviting those who wanted to help others understand to share their stories.

I regret using the word “selfish,” as, unfortunately, my 376-word post was too often boiled down to that one word.

I am so incredibly grateful to those of you who left thoughtful comments. You helped me to understand some of the reasons why some women don’t try breastfeeding. I appreciate your insight so much.

And for those of you who were hurt by my question, I am sincerely apologize.

I wasn’t trying to judge, I was trying to understand.

If I hadn’t asked the question, I would have never known the answer.

Isn’t that what life is about? Learning and growing?

Was it erroneous to believe that we could truly talk about a difficult topic and increase understanding?

Kate is thoughtfully exploring that topic today in Should We Avoid Talking About it Because It’s Uncomfortable?

I’d like to think that we can tackle tough topics and find a place in the middle where we have a better understanding of one another.

I’m willing to try, at least.

I hope you are too.

More on Babble

About Nichole

nichole

Nichole

Nichole Beaudry lives in Sacramento, California with her husband Craig, their daughter Katie and baby boy Matthew. In her former life she was a college English professor, now she shares some of her small moments in her Practicing Gratitude column each week at SheKnows and works at AllParenting as the Assignments Editor. She was a contributor to Babble, and currently keeps a personal blog, In These Small Moments.

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51 thoughts on “Miscommunication, It Happens to the Best of Us

  1. Annika says:

    I believe that you are a good person. However, it is your job as a writer to make sure you are accurately communicating an idea regardless of the context (i.e., this blog, your blog, The New York Times, etc.). As a writer, you have to take responsibility for the words you write, not just the ideas behind them. You cannot expect readers to read your mind or plow through everything else you’ve ever written to contextualize your words. Furthermore, blaming readers for not being able to read your mind is not going to win you any fans. It is possible to have an open and respectful dialog about difficult subjects, but only if people are careful and thoughtful about the way they present their viewpoints.
    That said, if communicating ideas were easy then there would be a lot less conflict in the world (or at least on Babble).

  2. Catherine says:

    Thanks for this, Nichole. I was one of the ones who was offended by your previous post. I do think you had good intentions, though, and I sincerely welcome your effort to get both sides of this issue to understand one another. I think that’s SO important. No one should feel judged for making the best decisions they can for their family. What’s most important is that we raise our kids with love and respect – the details are secondary. Your more welcoming tone here makes me feel more comfortable sharing my own story as a formula feeding mom. I have a personal and family history of depression, usually triggered by stress, sleep disruptions, and lack of exercise. I very carefully researched all my feeding options and, in the end, decided that my daughter was best served by having a mom who was happy, healthy, and able to be present with her in a loving way. Formula feeding allows my husband and I to share the nighttime feedings (less sleep disruption) and the daytime responsibilities (more time for me to get out and be active). In addition, I know that if I had tried and failed (or struggled) to breastfeed, the stress of that would have been considerable. I’m totally pleased with our decision and my daughter and I are both healthy and happy people these days. I think it’s important to understand that while there are certainly a few selfish and poorly motivated parents out there, 99% of us are just doing the very best we can to do what’s right for our kids and our families. We choose differently because we have different circumstances.

  3. Sarah says:

    I agree with the first commenter – that it’s your job as a writer to relay your point of view whether we know you or not. But I don’t think the problem here is that we read your words in “isolation”. It sounds like your intentions were good but I thought your post was poorly worded – starting with the title and ending with sentences like “I want to understand why anyone would deny their baby the best gift that they could give to them, even if for only six weeks. Even if for only those first few days after birth. Something…anything…is better than nothing.”

    That doesn’t sound like you’re coming from a place of a true desire to understand, you’re completing attacking women who don’t breastfeed. You’ve already alienated at least half of women with judgmental stuff like and then, in effect, ask them to explain themselves. It sounds like you really didn’t mean to yet it also sounds like you still aren’t comprehending how offensive what you wrote really is to women who don’t breastfeed regardless of the reason because you’re so locked in your own “breast is best” point of view. Were you truly trying to understand you wouldn’t have titled your post the way you did and you wouldn’t have put the breast is best stamp all over it.

  4. Courtney @ The Mommy Matters says:

    I just went back and read your last post, and truthfully I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Maybe because, had I written it, I probably would have used the same word. I think that different women have different reasons for not wanting to attempt breast feeding… but, so bluntly stating that breastfeeding would “mess up my boobs” IS selfish. No matter what anyone says. If there are other reasons, reasons that aren’t so self absorbed for not breast feeding, then that’s no issue. One of the hesitations we had with attempting to BF was that my husband would miss out on intimate bonding time with an infant. Reasons like that don’t bother me a bit. Great post. Thanks for approaching such a sensitive subject so eloquently.

  5. Cathy says:

    Just the fact you took the time to write this post tells me how sincere you are Nichole. And I WILL say I think it’s selfish to consider vanity over what’s best for your child (in the example you shared of a woman worried about the look of her breasts). I think it’s interesting to note that the people who left negative comments are the ones who don’t breastfeed….feeling defensive ladies? Seriously. If you can’t at least be honest and admit that breastfeeding IS the best form or nourishment for your child and then OWN your reason/excuse for not doing it, then stop judging someone who’s simply trying to learn and understand.

  6. NotJustAnotherJennifer says:

    Nichole, you know I love your work, and I totally knew what you meant yesterday, but I can see how others may have been offended by some of the word choices. I had a post on Mamapedia that backfired horribly because the readers weren’t familiar with my voice – eek! Even my husband thought it was hard to understand that I was being somewhat self-deprecating. I think sometimes we write how we feel and it isn’t received the way it would be if we could react to the audience in real-time. And that’s where it gets tricky. Great job writing this follow-up piece. That’s really all you can do. Love ya!

  7. Angelica says:

    I didn’t comment yesterday, because it seemed like everyone wanted to rip you to shreds, but I am a regular reader here, and in all honesty, it may have been the wording. But, guess what! I, for one, wasn’t offended! Not what one says, but how they say it, is the culprit….that wording things, is a seriously touchy subject and difficult business to master. I don’t know a single person who HAS mastered asking a difficult question without offending SOMEONE. It happens. It reminds me of a parent who asked another: “Why would you spell her name like that?” (It was spelled like a certain body part) or when a friend said out loud “I can’t believe ANYONE would let their child use a binky after 2! It ruins their teeth! It’s neglectful parenting, don’t you think?” (Standing in the same room was a woman who failed at weaning her son’s pacifier before the age of 4, who had to step out and let the flames escape her ears…). We will ALL do it and we will HEAR it at some point. That’s what apologies and forgiveness were made for, I truly believe.

  8. Kim at Let Me Start By Saying says:

    I saw nothing wrong with your post about BFing. To me, the word “selfish” seemed only pointed to the person who pretty much admitted that she didn’t want to BF solely because she wanted her boobs to look good.

    I’m glad you asked the question to begin with, because it is important to know both sides. I happen to know people who did want to and could, did want to and couldn’t, didn’t want to but did, and didn’t want to so didn’t. but not everyone is so lucky as to be surrounded by such diversity.

    Asking the question with honest curiosity is never a bad thing. Ever.

  9. JoAnn says:

    I didn’t notice anything offensive about yesterday’s post, it’s something I’ve personally wondered about myself…because formula is so dang expensive…but I hadn’t given it much thought so I didn’t want to comment.

    I read it before the comments rolled in. I think it’s fine to discuss controversial topics. Just not on Facebook or Twitter or any other platform where your feelings/ideas are reduced to a sentence and a half. It’s impossible to communicate then. I’m glad you did it here, where you can clarify the next day for people who misunderstood your intentions.

  10. CDN Mummy says:

    I wasn’t offended either. I went back and re-read your post as well and it seemed to me that you just wanted more information from the other side. Of course you can’t control the tone in which your readers process the post and I have in the past been offended by what some Babble writers have written while others have not. I don’t think you’ll ever be able to write something and have everyone love it but that’s life. I just wanted you to know that I got it and have never been offended by anything you’ve written.

  11. angela says:

    Wow, I was interested in reading the responses, because I thought it would be an informative dialogue, and I actually thought you handled the phrasing very respectfully. I haven’t read all of the responses to the original post, but I am a little disheartened by how quickly the discourse broke down into accusations. However, I was happy to read some of the replies from people who took the time to explain their choice, and I think I did gain some insight from some of those women.

    I am off to read Kate’s article, because I think it’s important to open lines of communication ESPECIALLY for difficult topics. If I only wanted my own opinion regurgitated back to me, I would just talk to myself :)

  12. Bitter Betty says:

    I’m glad you came back to clear the air here. I have been reading you over at ITSM and followed you over here as my husband and I also ttc our second child. I was a bit offended, not by your content directly, per say, but more so from some of the commenters who just don’t understand why some women choose not to BF. It seems that we moms tend to get so competitive over everything. By spending our time tearing each other down because this mom co-sleeps or this mom chooses not to BF or this mom gives her kids candy and junk all we do is belittle each other and further display our own insecurities as parents by judging others. Fact is NO ONE can tell you what is right or wrong for raising your child, and you can’t tell anyone else that the way they raise their child is wrong either. I hate the “mompetition!”
    But I am glad you came back to clarify that you were merely seeking reasons why some mom’s choose not to BF in a less condicending way. There are so many women out there who have great reasons for not BFing, and there are some that don’t have super reasons, but you know what? At the end of the day, that is her choice, no one elses!

  13. Beth says:

    I for one was very disappointed in your previous post– well, not the post, but the comments! When I saw your post, I really wanted to read the comments and learn about and understand other people’s decisions. Instead, I read angry, defensive comments. It seems that if they were so confident in their decision, they would be much more confortable explaining it to someone who was genuinely interested in understanding.
    One of my closest friends is an Ob/Gyn. A while ago we were talking about me bfing my son for 12 mos. She commented, “Yep. You are definitely a breastfeeder.” I asked what she meant and she explained that she encourages all of the pregnant moms she sees to breastfeed, but over the years she has seen significant socio-economic divides. As a middle-class, educated, SAHM I perfectly fit the mold for breastfeeding. She said very few of her wealthiest or poorest patients bf for long, if at all. Ever since that discussion, I have been fascinated by the breast/bottle decision. There were a few commenters that actually left interesting comments explaining their decisions, but overall I was disappointed at the lack of discussion.

  14. Leah says:

    I fully intend to pump and breastfeed, however as someone who must go back to work two weeks after the baby arrives, I do fully understand women who wouldn’t want to try to breast feed in my situation. If you have very little time off breast feeding can be hard to establish and – depending on your job -pumping at work can be anything from impossible to a complete PITA. I get it that some new moms would feel that it’s best to formula feed and not try to do too much. Working full time with a brand new infant while recovering from pregnancy and birth is hard enough.

  15. Sarah says:

    Nichole – I didn’t comment on it, but the other post rubbed me a bit the wrong way. If you really wanted to know why someone made a certain choice, you should just ask them why they made it. Preceeding the question with a blog on how you just don’t understand how someone could choose formula feeding over breast feeding without ever even trying to breast feed because breast is best, and it’s what you did for your children because you love them so much and want what was best for them, and it’s what any good parent would do because when you’re a parent you have to make sacrifices for your child… is not the best way to get an actual answer to your question. Yes, I paraphrased, but not by much. The only thing you’re going to get after repeatedly implying that people who do not try to breast feed for reasons other than cancer or other extreme medical reasons care less about their children than you do about yours, or don’t want to give them the best start in life that they can, is a whole lot of anger and defensiveness, which is about what you got (unfortunately plus a fair amount, accounting for the internet being the internet).
    Had you posted something more like “I found a post on a forum about a woman who didn’t want to breastfeed for X reason, and I personally don’t agree with or understand her reason. I chose to breastfeed my children, and while I do think that breastfeeding is best, I would like to try to understand why someone might choose otherwise. If you chose not to breastfeed, please share your reasons for why you made that choice in the comments section below.” you might have gotten a different reaction.
    Maybe not. Maybe it’s as you and Katie seem to be suggesting in your recent posts, and you both are being treated unfairly for bringing up controversial topics… But I suspect it has more to do with the how than the what. But that’s just my opinion, and you know what they say about opinions. :)

  16. Kim says:

    Sarah, I agree with you completely. To me, the previous post read as, “I do this because I love my children, and what you’re doing is selfish and made me sick, but I’d like to talk about it.” That’s not exactly the best way to start things. If you really want to open a dialogue, not much more needs to be said other than, “I’ve chosen to do this, but I want to hear why other women have chosen to do something else. Let’s talk about it.” And as I responded over on Kate’s blog, to me, the issue isn’t people being getting squeamish about talking about tough, controversial or uncomfortable subjects, it’s that the blog posts about said subjects are coming across as extremely judgmental, which puts people on the defensive. And, particularly when we’re dealing with a subject like parenting, people are already pretty defensive.

  17. K. Annie says:

    Wow! Your last post went out of control. I honestly don’t understand the reaction. But, I will say this, drawing a line between those who can’t breastfeed and those who won’t doesn’t mean squat in public. It’s not like babies are labeled: doesn’t latch or failure to thrive vs. my mother is selfish, so I get how it’s hard for women who wanted to breastfeed to be lumped together in the formula aisle with those who wanted to keep their boobs perky–and, of course those who wanted to breastfeed are more sensitive to judging eyes. I’m not sure this recent flood of apology posts here on bring pregnant are always for the right reason. Since when is I’m sorry you misunderstood what I was trying to say that same as I have my foot in my mouth and egg on my face. The latter would be way more refreshing.

  18. Alanna says:

    I really don’t know where to start b/c I find all the negative comments & nastiness just stunning. I read the first post b/c I also wanted to hear what people had to say.
    What I got from reading her post was that Nichole was asking the reasons a woman would choose not to breastfeed. It’s a simple fact- BREASTFEEDING IS BEST. There is not a dr or formula company out there who will say differently. I felt like she was ASKING- seeking to understand, learn something, seeing another side. I assumed that she was not “speaking” to those who may have a physical or medical condition that would prevent them from doing so, but rather to those who simply chose not to or seemed to have poor information about the effects of BF on your body. Cause god knows that there is some BAD info out there in the world about pretty much everything!

    Another point I got was that she is obviously passionate about BF and wanted to share that with everyone. Isn’t that what we all do? I mean, I am pasionate about running and I would ask you why if you said you never tried it and didn’t plan to (Beacause I would be truly curious) but that doesn’t mean I judge anyone who doesn’t run. When you love something, when you believe in something, when something brings you so much joy, of course you are going to talk about it. You want to share it so that others might have a chance to expereience it for themselves. How is that judgemental?
    It’s a shame that more people couldn’t have just shared their thoughts and reasons instead of getting defensive. It was such an honest question; I think it could have been a great opportunity to strengthen mommy bonds, which is what I think is what was intended.

  19. Amanda says:

    Nichole, I agree with what Sarah posted about your comments on “something is better than nothing” and I feel like sharing my post on Kate’s blog will help explain my view:

    “Unfortunatly yesterday I was a bit on the defensive from the breastfeeding blog because with my first baby I had every intention to breastfeed. But, out of my control my little boy was born 10lbs. 4oz and hungry! I tried to start breastfeeding but the poor little guy was just not getting what he needed and it got to the point that even the nurses recommended I switched to formula. And even after explaining all of this to a lot of friends and family I still had to listen to all of the comments of “well you just weren’t instructed right” and “next time just take a class”. If it is supposed to be so “natural” as many BF mom’s have put it, then why was is so difficult for me and my baby. I know there are plenty of moms out there that have probably had as big, if not bigger babies, then mine and breast fed just fine. But I gave it a good solid try and was still judged for not doing it! Now pregnant again, I am on a prescription that I have to take daily, that will leak into the breast milk. Unfortunately I can not come off of this medication. So I am already preparing myself for the ridicule that will follow. So just saying, its one of the old golden rules, “Its not what you say, but how you say it!”

    Although you believe your tone was in the right place, the word choices you made were not. If you were truly asking a question without judging then you can not make statements like, “I just can’t understand” or “I want to understand why anyone would deny their baby the best gift that they could give to them, even if for only six weeks. Even if for only those first few days after birth. Something…anything…is better than nothing.” Those are harsh words, very harsh. And even though some friends and family will know why this time around I am not even trying, I don’t feel like I should have to defend my ways or my reasons to others. Of course there are always those that don’t fit into this thinking, but for the most part I think that when women make a decision like this, they have weighed all of the pros and cons and we should accept their decision. But even if you are still curious as to why a decision was made, then careful the way you ask. You are not going to get a good response if you can’t choose your words carefully as to not put people on the defensive from the start!

  20. Diana says:

    As is often said in the south, there are three things you don’t discuss in polite company: religion, politics, and parenting. Parenting decisions can always be fraught with difficulty and contention-as parents, there is a lot of second guessing your decisions (often privately) to wonder if you really did what was best for your child. From cosleeping to feeding, there is controversy.

  21. Karen says:

    I get really twitchy about BFing articles and commentary. I’m a mom who tried for three months and was physically unable to produce enough milk for even one feeding. There’s a lot of judgment out there about moms who give their babies formula and I always take that hard, because I had no choice. For me, your words come across as carefully chosen. And I GET what you’re saying. Outside of circumstancial issues that make BFing hard at best and impossible at worst, I can’t understand why women would actually choose not to try for the reasons you described. Yes, they are superficial reasons. That is my opinion and it’s probably judgmental, but we’re all human and we were born with the ability to make judgments and have opinions.

    BFing is a tough topic with passionate opinions in every direction. Having respect for a woman’s right to choose how she feeds her baby is different from understanding why she’s chosen what she’s chosen. I advised a pregnant friend three years ago to do her research and try breastfeeding. She was uncomfortable with the idea. I said to her that if you don’t like it, you can stop, but if you don’t try, you can’t make your milk come in down the road. She took my advice and there were struggles, but she got a lot out of it, and overcame her inital doubts. Having an open mind is best.

  22. DeathMetalMommy says:

    Everyone interprets things differently. I also saw nothing wrong with your post. There is always going to be a handful of militant fanatics on both sides that will make an honest attempt at dialogue seem like a terrible idea. A co-worker of mine was pregnant at the same time I was with my first son. She told me that she wasn’t going to nurse and wasn’t interested in even trying. Now as much as I wanted to tell her that she should at least try, I didn’t because it really wasn’t my place. She is now pregnant with her second and doesn’t intend to nurse him either. She recently informed me that she simply cannot make her head separate uncomfortable sexual thoughts from breastfeeding and that she also will not use tampons for the same reason, misplaced sexual connotations. I actually kind of felt bad for her after that. She can’t experience a deeper bond with her children because her mind keeps getting in the way.

  23. Bunnytwenty says:

    The main problem I had with the post was the total lack of understanding that not everyone lives in the same privileged socioeconomic bubble that you do. Being able to “parent properly” according to this society requires money that the majority of Americans don’t have. It behooves you to at least acknowledge that women who have to work full-time or more and/or lack any kind of maternity leave exist in this country, that breastfeeding can be prohibitively difficult for them, and that they can be good mommies too. Have some compassion.

  24. Ashley says:

    The fact is that science proves that breast milk is better, but the reality is that a LOT of people think it it gross. Breast feeding mothers justify themselves and subsequently attack formula feeding mothers by saying that it is the best, and formula feeding mothers justify themselves and attack breast feeding mothers by saying that breast feeding is gross and formula isn’t bad even if its not as good. Even if your not trying to be judgmental or sitting on “your high horse,” saying that your way is the best is going to make anyone that decided something different feel judged. This is a debate that will probably never end and cause plenty of hurt feelings, because even with me knowing and understanding what I just said I still think everyone should try to breastfeed. I breastfed one baby and didn’t breastfeed the other (because my milk never came in) and I noticed a difference in bonding and, aside from dirty looks if I was in public, breastfeeding was easier and more relaxed once I got used to it.

  25. Carol says:

    I am a mother of three and the longest i was able to breastfeed was about 6 weeks with my oldest daughter. I have met many women who feel strongly that “breast is best” but how can such a generalization be made? How can breastfeeding be best for mothr or child if the mother has anemia, health problems, or issues with milk supply? Honestly Breast milk is ideal if you are in PERFECT health! and who is? Formula has been created to mimic that ideal balance of nutrients to mirror breastmilk. The purpose of this is to provide women an alternative to breastfeeding should they realize they are UNABLE to breastfeed. I feel many of the moms who were offended feel this way because of the perception that we are selfish or vain or lazy. It is not a case of being defensive due to guilt, but due to a vast amount of harsh criticism.

  26. meme says:

    “I want to understand why anyone would deny their baby the best gift that they could give to them, even if for only six weeks. Even if for only those first few days after birth.

    Something…anything…is better than nothing.”

    This is the part I found offensive…it is judgemental.

  27. meme says:

    “She can’t experience a deeper bond with her children because her mind keeps getting in the way.”

    And this…I said it in my response to the last thread…is FLAGRANTLY untrue. I have a deep abiding bond with my daughter and did not breastfeed. Cuddling and deep stares into her eyes as I held her to my chest holding a bottle to her mouth allowed that.

  28. Carol says:

    MEME i totally agree, there is nothing stronger than the bond i have with my husband and kids and i really struggled with breastfeeding. And thats what i meant about Nichole having good intentions but it came out totally wrong.

  29. Sandi says:

    It wasn’t just the word selfish, it was how the whole thing was worded. You either come off completly naive or very judgemental. As a bright mom who writes for a living, we assume you’re not dim. A lot of us took it the other way and were very offended. Your explanation today and your friend’s post defending you do little to address the offense. You’re not a child who needs to have the world explained. If you wanted an inclusive, thoughtful discussion, then you should have asked that kind of question. What you did was start at your strongly held opinion of what is best and ask us why we didn’t do it your way. I was very offended, and I BF my children.

  30. Justrelax7 says:

    I agree with @Annika and @Sarah
    “The only thing you’re going to get after repeatedly implying that people who do not try to breast feed for reasons other than cancer or other extreme medical reasons care less about their children than you do about yours, or don’t want to give them the best start in life that they can, is a whole lot of anger and defensiveness, which is about what you got (unfortunately plus a fair amount, accounting for the internet being the internet).”
    –That’s exactly how I felt about the post!

    @Alanna—Instead of BREAST IS BEST can we say “Breast is a GREAT OPTION!” I tried to nurse my daughter and an unknown thyroid problem prevented it. I was a new mother trying to give my colicky daughter the best in life and my body was preventing it. Everywhere I looked there were “Breast is Best” signs. The saying made me fee like I had failed my daughter. Never in my life had I failed. Maybe I wasn’t the best at something, but failure wasn’t an option. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredibly difficult it was for me to switch to formula. I cried for days thinking I wasn’t giving my daughter the best. But it was here on Babble that I read and article called Formula isn’t Poison. For once I realized that I wasn’t failing. (Also Nicole, I wasn’t “denying” my daughter.) My daughter’s ped had a wonderful talk with me and shared the idea that “Breast is a great option!” And I haven’t looked back…

    Today, I’m very supportive of BOTH! For new mom’s, I like to give them a really pretty nursing cover. You’re more likely to feel comfortable feeding your child in public if your styling, right? And I’m here to help mom’s register for bottles. And pass along websites that explain the unique break down of the various types of formula.

  31. Kristin Contreras says:

    It seems to me that many readers see what they feel is a hot button issue to them and run with it. I often wonder if they even bother reading the entire blog. Even some of the ones on here that have been meant to be a bit humerous, have gotten terrible comments when I can’t for the life of me understand why. Doesn’t anyone have a sense of humor?? It seems that if you truly want some perspective and not just to vent, you have to weed through the sea of comments and take the objective over the critical.

  32. Elissa says:

    I don’t think that the word ‘selfish’ was your problem because that pertained to the woman in the example, and no one else. I think your problem may have beenthe parting remark about denying your baby the greasted gift you have to offer. That, to me, is a way of saying selfish without having to say it. Still, you didn’t ask for an editor, you asked for forgiveness and understanding. I think that’s a really important step to take, and sets a good example for all of us who participate in discussions on these hot button topics.

    Yes, people will always get offended, yes, misunderstandings happen but, equally yes, we have to be responisble for our own words. The dicussion can’t ever be productive if people aren’t willing to put up their hands and say, ‘actually, I can see that what I said really hurt your feelings. I’m sorry.’ We will never all agree, but we can at least try to honestly and openly listen.

  33. Carol says:

    Thank you Elissa!!!! ENOUGH SAID!!!

  34. BonnieL says:

    Part of the problem is that you seem to be seeing a false dichotomy between “tried but couldn’t” and “didn’t try.” With my first baby, I found myself trying much harder, for much longer, than many women — and also giving up much sooner after less effort than many women. Simply put, each mom is going to weigh in her own mind, how important she feels breastfeeding to be versus what she’s willing to suffer for it. That can be difficult to fully understand in your own mind, much less to try to make clear for someone else.
    .
    Also, keep in mind that a lot of women may have a gut reaction to the idea that they either aren’t fully aware of, or choose not to explain to others. History of abuse can be a big one. Mental health issues, too.
    .
    Someone above made the same old predictible comment about how non-breastfeeders “must not be confident in their choice.” Well, duh. Why do people always think that means something? As a mom, there are a lot of choices I’m not confident in — many times at a fork in the road, I fear potential bad outcomes from ALL available choices. Once the choice is made, even if I knew it was best, I still worry about the consequences. If you never doubt yourself, well yay for you.
    .
    Nichole, one last comment: You said “why anyone would deny their baby the best gift that they could give to them.” That’s some of the hyperbole about breastfeeding that makes the whole topic so overwrought. There are many, many decisions you will make for your child over the years. Breastfeeding is only one of them, and not likely to be the most important. (Not even likely to be in the 10 most important.) We all need to remember to keep it in perspective.

  35. jepea says:

    i’m really happy to find this continuing discussion (in this post as well as in other ones about controversial topics) about, well- about how to talk about different parenting choices WITHOUT judging and insulting others, and how to try to just see another’s point of view without feeling so threatened by it, and how to have a civil dialogue in a fairly un-moderated forum such as Babble…

    after reading most of the comments, it seems like a WHOLE lot of the posters (including many ones that disagreed with some of your word choices) actually wanted to contribute to that discussion rather than scream and yell and accuse you of terrible things. looks like progress to me. :)

  36. Rachel {at} Mommy Needs a Vacation says:

    As you know I was gone so I am behind in reading your Babble posts. I KNOW you and KNOW that you never meant to hurt or belittle anyone. Once I finally got around to reading the post, there were 95+ comments…I just couldn’t bring myself to comment. I love that you opened that dialogue…but then again, I love you!

  37. Bethany - Fit2B Studio says:

    My professor in journalism taught us to write true, authentic words from our hearts and to enjoy any kind of mail or response we got, no matter how hateful, because it meant people were reading. It meant people were thinking. You wrote what you wrote. I’ve read both posts. The people who got mad are the ones who had their consciences pricked. People don’t like being confronted. They get mad. Oh well. So a few people got mad. So a few people got offended. Well, you and I are offended by them putting their own selfish needs above the needs of their children. Perhaps I’m off kilter in this modern world, because I believe it’s a little okay to speak my mind. It’s freedom of speech. I’m NOT sorry it offends you. I’m NOT sorry it makes you think. These are my beliefs. These are my questions. This is what I’m wanting to know, to understand, to discuss. If you don’t like it, go read another blog that tells you everything you want to hear and never offends you and never makes you think outside of your cozy little box. I think you’re mistake was apologizing. It makes you a “good” person to apologize, but it doesn’t make you a good writer. Writers only apologize when they mis-spell something or mis-quote something. Bring it, Sister.

  38. Bethany - Fit2B Studio says:

    Oh, I apologize for spelling “your” wrong. I accidentally spelled it “you’re” in the wrong context. ;)

  39. Kir says:

    I actually just read this, coming over from your blog.

    I have to say, that I was hurt by your first post and in knowing you, I knew that you weren’t doing it with that intention in mind, but Wow, motherhood is so full of guilt already, I couldn’t imagine that even with them at 3, after my IVF, my Pre term labor, my bed rest and my babies that arrived 5 weeks early at 4’7 and 5’1 lbs that I’d still feel so guilty.

    However, I never wanted to breastfeed. I didn’t. I didn’t consider it, I didn’t want to, I didn’t give one moment of thought to it and here I’m going to break a silence and tell you why.

    Since I was 10 I have always been known by my chest. I was a very early developer. First boyfriends, school kids etc, everyone had something to say about me. Small waist, C cup in 8th grade and high school…boys who wanted to date me it was always about my smile and my boobs. Even John to this day (Of course in a loving joking manner ) will say when I ask “Why do you love me honey?”…”2 Big reasons” …

    my whole identity and sexuality has been tied up in my upper region. I remember someone on the last post saying something about woman who had been sexually abused felt this way about BFing and while I wasn’t abused sexually I was physically abused. I don’t know where my mindset of “my boobs are for me/my husband and not the babies ” came from, but it’s always been there.

    Plus I know me, I wanted John to bond with the babies, I didn’t want to be even more sleep deprived trying to nurse twins, but in saying that it sounds like I wanted to try..and I have to be honest, I didn’t . There was no part of me that felt it would be better for any of us. How could my shame or modesty about doing it be any better for Gio & Jacob?

    I had tried for 4 yrs to get PG, done countless IUI/Clomid and finally an IVF. I wasn’t beyond doing anything for my children, but this was one thing that I was not comfortable with and instead of making myself uncomfortable for my children, I chose to have all of us COMFORTABLE.

    I hope that doesn’t hurt or offend you Nichole, I love you….as a friend and mentor, writer and fellow mom. I just wanted you to know from me, why I didn’t want to breastfeed and why I don’t feel bad about it.

  40. Erin says:

    I was expecting the original post to be about parents not vaccinating their children, so opting out of breastfeeding was a bit of a surprise. I’m a reader and a lover of research, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from books, journals and blogs is it helps to keep in mind that what we “know” about child rearing tends to get turned in it’s head every generation or so. I love nursing my baby but who knows, maybe all the antibiotics, hormones and pesticides in our food will prove that formula was a better option thirty years down the road. I don’t believe that for several reasons but it helps to keep things in perspective.

  41. Nora says:

    I think the question of why do women not even try to BF can be broken up into several categories…this is not a list as to why women aren’t successful when they do try. That’s a whole ‘nother list.

    As to if you think these are good reasons or just flimsy excuses- that is where the “judgement” comes in.

    1) Medical Reasons- Epilepsy, severe PPD/Major Depression, HIV etc

    2) Sex- previous sexual abuse, cannot separate from own sexuality, body image etc

    3) Don’t think BFing is worth the Hassle- consider formula equivalent to breast milk, want to have someone else do overnight care etc

    4) Work Concerns

    5) Think it is Gross/Unnatural- not familiar with BFing (likely some overlap with Sexual issues with breasts seen as sexual organs only)

    6) Cultural and Family pressure including from significant other- again overlap with sexuality and “Gross”ness

    That is my summary as I see it. Now for my soapbox: this culture in the US sends mixed messages to moms. On one side of their mouth they talk about breast being best for babies but then not giving moms support to do so- like any paid maternity leave. And then using breasts as sex objects to sell products but shunning any image of nursing women in the mainstream media….or even sometimes from Main Street USA.

    The marketing of formula is really insidious too. There is that baby solving quadratic equations on alot recently and it undermines the science of breastfeeding in people’s minds. And the hospitals that hand out the free samples are complicit with the formula companies.

    People in general don’t understand population statistics….so if they know a baby that is FFed and healthy they think the claims of the benefits of BF are overblown.

    However: statistics cannot predict what will happen to an INDIVIDUAL only to a population as a whole. Therefore not all babies who are FFed will be unhealthy but in general it is a RISK FACTOR for lots of conditions in the baby: SIDS, leukemia, ear infections, infectious diarrhea etc.

    I think the bonding arguement and IQ differences just tick people off and make them defensive. This takes away from the scientific facts of the benefits of breast milk that I consider more compelling: Formula cannot replicate breast milk and using it is a risk factor for disease when looking at the whole population of babies. This is not to say that it is poison or that formula automatically makes children unhealthy.

    We all have hard parenting descisions to make and we have to decide what risks we are willing to assume.

  42. K says:

    I sincerely recognize any choice to not breastfeed to be a crime against humanity. Thats correct. I do not recognize it as anything less. The exact reason I recognize it as such is simple. There are many different kinds of animals on this planet. All animals(okay most) have mothers. There are many different kinds of mothers in the animal world. One type of mother is a very special one here one earth. Many humans observe them to be the most nurturing mothers of the entire animal kingdom. These very special mothers are Mammals. Mammal mothers raise their young differently than non-mammals. Mammal mothers feed their young differently than non-mammals. Mammals unlike non-mammals have breasts to nurse their young. Mammal babies need their Mammal mothers to nurse them, and the mothers do. That is why Mammals are different. That is why mammals are special. They nurse their young from the second they latch on at birth. They pass on nutrients, warmth, heartbeat, breathing tempo, voice vibrations, energy, genetic information, brain chemicals and many other things to their young through breastfeeding. That is the only way a Mammal can exist. I realize many people may be shocked at this very next sentence…but. Humans are Mammals. Thats correct, humans are mammals too. We humans breastfeed to exist. A mammal mother denying their young natural, un-pumped, in-person breastfeeding is gut wrenching. A mammal mother feeding her young any other way is gut wrenching. A mammal mother feeding her young “formula” I can only recognize as a crime. Anything fed to mammal young besides the actual mothers in-person nursing I can only recognize as poison, and catastrophic for the young mammal. I can only recognize compelling evidence that full development cannot scientifically-possibly occur in any mammal young without mammal nursing. It would not be a mammal. I suspect modern humans are “out of tune”, “un-balanced”, “disconnected”, “detached” from, reality, mammal hood, motherhood, human hood, nature, the universe, and what they truly are. I suspect it may be a huge catastrophe. Many humans may be completely lost. My gut wrenches for the young, and I’d very much like to type that again. My gut wrenches for any mammal on this earth that does not receive in-person nursing from the mammal that birthed them. The fist thing every mammal does in life is latch on. Thats what makes mammals special. It’s terrible that a mammal could possibly be offended by this. I’m utterly perplexed. I suspect they’re detached. I cannot recognize it any other way. I apologize for offending mammals about this.I mean absolutely no hostility with these words and should be read in a calm friendly tone because thats how I felt saying this. Theres nothing I can do about what and how I recognize. I apologize for recognizing thing as I do. I encourage comments, please.

  43. K says:

    Edit: I’d just like to add on to the list of benefits passed on through nursing (that I listed above), -hormones, the correct hormones from the mammal that birthed the recipient. I’d also like to clarify that by “crime” I’m referring to “neglect” and “deprivation”. I think its also very telling that in the animal kingdom(“natural-wild”) any mammalian mother who neglects to nurse, or deprives their mammalian young from suckling, is synonymous with starvation and eminent death. To refuse to nurse in the wild, is accepting the “murder” of the young. That some human mammals would deem any substitute acceptable is too shocking to really, really, truly believe.

  44. Anita says:

    Dear K
    You are being quite dogmatic in your mammal cult enthusiasm. Maybe you don’t realize, but one of the ways that humans are different from other mammals is that humans have the ability to reason and form concepts, which allows us to understand and respond to very complex information. It is this reasoning power that we use to determine what actions we need to take to best help our individual mammal children to survive and live the strongest and healthiest lives possible. My “poor young mammal” does not survive by instinct alone and can also use his high-level reasoning to see two loving and supportive parents responding to his needs as he suckles from his bottle. Perhaps you should spend your obsessively biased time saving the whales because your strict principles really don’t apply to us caring, feeling and reasoning humans.

  45. Anna says:

    Hoping to open a polite dialogue about a hot button issue was not erroneous in the least. That is not what you did. You attacked mothers who make a decision to parent differently than you. You accused FF of being selfish and denying their children. You were judgmental, unkind, and just plain rude. I do not read your other blogs, nor am I tempted to now. You communicated very poorly in both your original post and in your “apology.” I’ve already communicated how I felt about your first post, but your second failed miserably in addressing what the real issue was. I agree with previous posters who stated that we should not have to sort through other postings or attempt to read your mind to understand what you meant. Your intentions, whatever they originally were, left many feeling devalued and judged as mothers, myself included. I hope that you use this as a lesson for further posts. It is not your place to pass judgment on others and that IS what you did, regardless of intention.

  46. Steph says:

    Nichole, I think you were right to use the word selfish because that is what is DOES boil down to. I can’t believe the amount of women who simply choose not to breastfeed. I loved your original article.

  47. Amanda says:

    I have written and re-written my comments so many times that I’m just going to boil it down to this:

    1. I liked your first post and did not find it offending in the least. You have opinions, just because I don’t agree with them (or do) doesn’t mean you can’t have them or shouldn’t write about them. If there is something fundamental that I find offensive I might not read anymore and I might tell you that but this is nowhere near that for me. There are numerous sites with statistics and facts that don’t have as much in the way of opinions.
    2. It was really nice of you to follow it up with this post for those that were so obviously offended but I don’t feel it was necessary.
    3. For those that are going on ad nauseum about how offended they are and how judgmental your post was: Hello kettle, it’s the pot, you’re black. Those that seem to complain to the loudest about feeling judged, in my experience are those that tend to be doing the most judging themselves.

    If you feel judged, chances are you are probably the type of person that makes others feel judged as well.

    4. Please let’s remember it does not makes us bad moms to make decisions that are different from our mom’s, mother-in-laws, neighbours or friends, or random bloggers, or other people on the internet. Everyone is different, every family and every child is different and you do not have to justify your decisions to anyone but yourself. If you are feeling judged, you need to look within yourself and figure out why you aren’t okay with your decision or why you feel a need to justify your decision to anyone.

    It’s nice to know that there are a number of reasons for mom’s to make the decisions they make, perhaps these will help those that are making those tough decisions but honestly, I trust you, that you are making the best decision for you, your child and your family, regardless of how it differs from my decisions and my family. YOU ARE A GOOD MOM. You don’t make all the exact same parenting decisions that I do but I don’t care. I know that you love your babe and you are making the best choices you can for you and your baby for the circumstances you have at any particular moment in time. Even though I don’t agree with every single decision you make, I still like to hear your thoughts and ideas about it, it helps point me in a direction to make informed decisions as I go along this fabulous journey of motherhood.

    Thanks you again for such a thoughtful post!

  48. Rebecca says:

    @K- your post is a little extreme…and that may be an understatement. I do not wish to personally attack your view, but FYI, it seems as though you have no problem doing the same to someone else. Although I believe you have the right to your values, I don’t think you have the right to wrongfully accuse others who have different beliefs of being criminals. Also, I would like to point out that the mortality rate in the animal kingdom due to insufficient nutrients to young from a mother who is unable to produce milk is soaringly high. We have the ability if need be to offer our young an alternative to death. Or a supplement to promote growth in young who have failure to thrive. And although I personally think breastfeeding is the best choice, and I love the information you included about all the positive things obtained by doing so, I think everyone one has the right to make the decision to do what is best for their circumstances.

    Now to the main topic. I read the post in question. I ageed with some points and not with others. This is human nature.
    @Angela: “If I only wanted my own opinion regurgitated back to me, I would just talk to myself :) ” This by far is my favorite thing I have read in this thread.

    Isn’t that what blogs and forums and such are about? Everyone needs to try to keep an open mind. Even about how someone way view it as criminal to not contact breastfeed ;)

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