When Rebecca Wanosik, 30, a stay-at-home mom of six, received a text from a friend while out to dinner, she told her husband it was time to ask for the bill.
While some of us may have balked at the request or been a bit annoyed to be rushed through our first date in over a year, Wanosik didn’t even hesitate when she read what her friend was asking of her:
To breastfeed a baby she had never even met.
You see, Wanosik has a special place in her heart for breastfeeding. Not only has she breastfed all six of her children and founded an online lactation cookie business, she also endured a traumatizing forced separation from her fifth child at only 9 weeks old.
CPS mistook her baby’s rare connective tissue disorder and Vitamin D deficiency that caused broken bones as child abuse. As a result, they took all of her children away for an agonizing 10-month period while they investigated. Children’s Services deemed Wanosik’s solution of pumped breast milk and donor milk as medically unethical and switched her baby over to formula.
“It was awful,” Wanosik tells Babble of the experience. “Last year was atrocious, and it’s why I am [so] adamant about feeding a baby whose mother can’t get to her.”
Today, Wanosik has her family back, which includes six children, ranging from 9 years to 8 months old and she is a passionate breastfeeding advocate. So when her friend asked her to help another mother in need, Wanosik thought nothing of it.
The woman, Melissa Rios, had never met Wanosik in person — and she still hasn’t to this day. But Rios had undergone general anesthesia for a necessary surgery, making her unable to nurse her 5-month-old daughter, Gabby, who is exclusively breastfed.
While being cared for by family members, the baby had refused to drink from a bottle, drinking only a half-ounce of breast milk in a 13-hour period. Frantic, the friend called Wanosik for help.
“There was absolutely no hesitation at all,” Wanosik said of her decision to feed the baby. “In fact I rushed my husband through his dinner because the baby was a priority. Babies get dehydrated so quickly! It wouldn’t have mattered what we were doing, I would have stopped what I was doing to feed the baby.”
And feed the baby she did, along with her own son, who is still nursing. Wanosik even managed to snap a sweet photo of the two breastfeeding babes nursing together. Gabby, Wanosik says, seemed relieved and content to have the milk that she had been missing all day.
“She did that frantic thing that babies do when they know they are about to eat and the moment she latched, she nestled right in, no issues at all,” she explained.
Little Gabby spent the night at Wanosik’s house, where she kept the generous mother up all night making up for lost time eating. “It was like an orchestra,” Wanosik said with a laugh. “It was just impossible — I admire mothers of twins, I don’t know how they do it!”
Remembering how anxious she was when her own breastfed baby was taken from her, Wanosik says that she decided to send the picture to Rios to let her know that her baby girl was OK, despite the fact that it was 1:30 in the morning.
“I took the picture and I was just like, ‘Oh my goodness this is too cute not to send. I sent it to her just to let her know her baby is fine. She responded with tons of hearts and said, ‘This just makes me feel so much better.’ She was very grateful.”
Predictably, not everyone agreed with Wanosik’s decision to feed a stranger’s baby. Within 24 hours of her posting the photo to her personal Facebook account, hundreds of people had reported the image, calling it “sick” and “nasty.” When Facebook didn’t take action because duh, there is nothing about the photo that violates Facebook’s policies, the trolls reported Wanosik’s entire account as a fraudulent.
Wanosik then had to spend days proving to Facebook that she was the owner of her account, sending them everything from grocery store memberships to her marriage license. Once she finally got her account back, Facebook took it down again, redirecting her to the Facebook “community standards,” which clearly state a woman can even expose a nipple, providing a child is nursing off the other one.
Wanosik says that she realizes it may be “taboo” to nurse another person’s baby, but she’s been glad to see the support for her picture and breastfeeding in general.
“Our society uses breasts to sell everything from hamburgers to vehicles,” said Wanosik. “It’s almost repulsive if you sit down and take a good hard look at it — we’ve come a long from what breasts are actually intended to do, which is to feed babies. It doesn’t make any sense why any woman would be shamed for feeding their child. If you didn’t feed them that would be neglect.”
Her family, including her husband, an active serviceman in the army, has supported her not only nursing another baby in a time of need, but also sharing her story publicly.
“He was not weirded out at all,” Wanosik noted. “He knows that boobs are to feed babies. This is not a new concept in our house at all, he didn’t think it was going to go viral, but he’s completely supportive.”
Given the chance, Wanosik says she would not hesitate to do it all over again.
“I would absolutely feed anyone’s hungry baby again,” she said. “When babies are hungry and their mothers aren’t there to feed them, I would hope any mother would do her service and support her village. It is really that simple of a thing.”