For those of you who I am friends with on social media, you’ve probably seen a recent exchange on my page with regards to the new study about Autism being proven to be 80% hereditary. For those of you who follow this blog, you’ll be simultaneously happy (because it makes a great story) and disappointed (because I did it again, and another one exists) to know that I’ve fed a troll. Again.
The troll decided to turn what should have been a private share, in a support group, twist it, and then use it against me to attempt to prove their illogical and misinformed argument. Confused yet? Let’s start from the beginning…
When I was pregnant, I had every intention of breastfeeding my baby as long as humanly possible. I went to all the prenatal breastfeeding, pumping and storing classes that my hospital offered. I took notes feverishly. I got the free breast pump and all the accouterments that my insurance would cover and when it arrived in the mail it was like Christmas! I pulled it out, cleaned it, and set it up to be sure I knew precisely what I was doing. I sterilized the bottles, nipples, flanges, everything. I felt ready.
August finally came into the world, and as I lay recovering after my emergency C-section I encouraged M to do skin-on-skin with him. I wanted him to feel comfortable, safe, warm and loved. When I had even half a semblance of what was what, I asked for my baby, to try and feed him for the very first time.
His little mouth tried so hard to grab onto me, and I tried so hard to position him, and myself correctly. We adjusted ourselves. August cried. We adjusted again. The recovery nurse came over to assist. We adjusted again. August screamed. We switched sides. We adjusted. August was hysterically crying. I cried. We stopped for the minute, even though my baby kept rooting, looking for his source of sustenance. He settled into sleep, and I said to myself, “We’ll try again in a little bit.”
We did. His mouth wouldn’t latch. We repositioned 10 times, 20 times, each shift made August cry harder. He cried so hard that he became hoarse. I stopped, because I, too, was crying. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. This was yet another way that my body was supposed to “know what to do” and it wasn’t happening.
The lactation consultants came in. They repositioned. Massaged. Repositioned. Checked for tongue ties. Repositioned. August cried. I cried. They repositioned. And then they said, “You’ll probably want to make an appointment with us after you’re discharged if this doesn’t resolve itself.”
And they left.
My baby cried. He was so hungry. He screamed. He was so hungry. I cried. He was so hungry. My body was failing. Again.
I called the nurse. My baby was screaming, and I asked her, “What would you do??” She didn’t have an answer. So I asked the question I hadn’t really contemplated whatsoever before this day, “Do you have something I can give him, so he’s not starving?”
You would have thought that I had suggested I just throw my child out the window and start from scratch. The look on her face was judgment so harsh I can hardly compare it to anything I had ever seen in my life. She said, “Oh, you mean formula?”
In the upcoming days, and weeks, I continuously tried to breastfeed my baby. I visited the lactation consultants who weighed him before we started and after we finished our sessions, with dismal results. We tried a nipple shield. We tried all the methods in the book that I have since blocked out of my memory because it was all so humiliating, embarrassing and disappointing.
I pumped multiple times a day, sometimes for up to 40 minutes at a time, and the most I ever pumped at one time was 3 ounces, and this was both breasts combined. For those of you who don’t have a baby, or it’s been a while, 3 ounces lasts approximately 2 seconds with a hungry newborn.
I pushed through and pumped for an entire month before my breasts gave up, my supply dried up and my body wouldn’t produce anything, anymore. I hated my breasts for being two failures attached to my chest that I carried around 24/7. I hated my breast pump because it was a constant reminder of that failure that I sat in front of for hours of my life.
This one month mark was a victory for me. My own personal victory, that I felt stupid celebrating. After all, my body had failed. Again.
I supplemented my baby’s feedings with formula but always offered breastmilk first and foremost, because of it’s magical and wonderful powers. Once my supply dried up, I exclusively formula-fed my baby until he started on purees and solids. I can’t tell you how many dirty and judgemental looks I had to ignore while mixing a bottle for my hungry baby in public.
I have shared this story with those close to me, and especially the mamas I have become close with, whose babies are close in age to August, and in a new parent support group that I look forward to attending each week. It goes without saying that personal shares in a support group setting should never – I REPEAT NEVER – be brought up outside the walls of the said group unless you’re having a genuine, heartfelt conversation or commiserating with the sharer by sharing your own struggles or experiences.
Back to the troll:
My side of the debate was that I trust doctors who took an oath to do no harm and have been rigorously trained by the medical and scientific consensus to correctly advise the public – in this case, that vaccines save lives, and do not cause Autism.
After four hours of going around in circles, I cut off the conversation, as it wasn’t going anywhere. I defriended her. At which point, this troll would not stop. She messaged me privately, and her true colors were revealed. Apparently, she hadn’t listened properly during our support group, or chose to hear what she wanted to hear. Regardless, in her private message, she implied that I was a hypocrite for choosing not to breastfeed my baby. At this point, her intentions were clear: Cause harm. I blocked the troll.
There are quite a few lessons to be learned here.
- If you choose to participate in group therapy: LISTEN.
- This is a strong reminder for me that when choosing to participate in any group therapy, there is an expectation that what you say will not be used as a weapon against you. That what you say will not be divulged inappropriately or in bad faith.
- Arguing about science or debating news is completely appropriate and welcome, but there is a time for the conversation or debate to end, and that’s ok too! If it is about winning rather than sharing information, it has gone too far.
- Following someone after they have left a debate, conversation, or argument to continue to try and make a point is fucking creepy. Imagine if this troll had done this in real life! What would that have looked like?!
- If it is not something that is ok to do in real life, DO NOT do it online.
- It is completely ok to defriend, unfollow, or otherwise disengage from someone, both online and in real life. It is ok if you are defriended or unfollowed on social media, not everyone in life has to like you. Please see item #4.
I’ll do my best to keep the trolls at bay, but there’s no guarantee we won’t have another post about another one in a year or so 🙂 Keep fighting the good fight, friends!