Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

They Shoot Wet Nurses, Don't They?

Her name was Laura, and I nursed her baby.

We had met, initially, at breakfast and immediately hit it off. We sat down with our coffees and immediately got swept up in a conversation that ran the gamut from the advantages of Twitter over Facebook to the challenges of leaving one's baby for a night. Which is precisely what I had done: I had left my baby to attend a symposium on parenting. And it was, as I told Laura over coffee, in some ways profoundly liberating, and in others completely terrifying. Also, my boobs hurt. Badly. I had forgotten my breast pump and an hour of hand-expressing in the shower that morning hadn't helped much. I didn't mention that part, though. I just said, I miss my baby.

She said, I know. Her own baby - a dark-haired sprite, just one year old - bounced happily on her knee. I would find it hard to leave her.

Yeah.

I liked her. I offered to help her sort out her Twitter/Facebook conundrum, and introduce her to some New York area bloggers. She invited me to a parenting event in Albany later in the month. We chatted throughout the day. The chirps and coos of her baby reminded me of my own chirping, cooing baby, who had accompanied me in the previous month to two conferences, who I was unaccustomed to being without, especially in this environment. My heart hurt, and my breasts ached. They ached. I kept my arms pressed against my chest for most of the morning.

At lunch I fled to my room and tried, unsuccessfully, to hand-express. I returned to the symposium, and sat down near Laura, and another woman that I had met that day. We were supposed to have a conversation about our parenting successes, or something like that. I said, you'll have to count me out. I'm in a lot of pain and don't know what to do. I huddled on the chair, squeezing the rock-hard contours of my chest as tightly as I could without screaming. I explained about the missing breast-pump, the terrible ache of my engorged breasts, the hours remaining before I would see my son. The other woman asked, is there a store nearby? I shook my head - the concierge had told me that there were no pharmacies in the immediate area. Laura cocked her head thoughtfully, and looked at her daughter, who was beginning to fuss. Would you consider, maybe... I know it sounds sorta weird, but... I have no problem with it, and she's hungry... She looked at me, and waited.

Really?

Really.

I paused. My head spun, a little. Would I do this, really? Would it be weird? And then I thought, no. There's nothing weird here. Boobs are boobs. Breastmilk is breastmilk, in all of its liquid gold glory. I bond with my son when we nurse, but it is not because he is latched to my breast. It is because I have him in my arms, and because I love him. Our intimacy derives from that love, and that love would be just as forceful if I fed him with a bottle. So would it be weird if someone else fed him from a bottle? No, of course not. These are only acts of nurture, whether they involve the bottle or the breast. And this is what the breast is made for.

I nodded, and reassured Laura that as a nursing mom I did not take any substances or medications that might compromise my milk.

And so. I took Laura's daughter in my arms and she smiled at me and I lifted my shirt and she happily bent her head and drank her fill.

(Was it weird? No. It was different. Describing the thoughts and emotions that accompany nursing another woman's child requires more space than I have here. It was intimate, but not inappropriately so - no more inappropriately intimate than someone holding your baby and cooing in his ear, whispering sweet baby nothings. If anything, it brought me to a deeper, more visceral understanding of my body as a miracle of biology, as a work of nature that is built to do certain things, one of those thing being - in my case; this is not necessarily true for every woman, and no woman is lesser for not being able to do it - nursing babies. My breasts are not sacred or magical objects, they are not quivers full of milk-arrows that can and must only be directed to blood-offspring. They provide milk. They nourish. They are both utterly mundane and terrifically awe-inspiring for that fact.)

I was grateful - so, so grateful - for Laura and her child; their generosity and open-mindedness and open-heartedness saved me a great deal of pain. At the end of the day, a mother was released from some considerable discomfort, and a child was nourished. Wonderful, no?

Well, as it happens: no. Not for everybody. Someone was watching, and someone did not like what they saw. Someone was watching and decided that what I had done was deviant. Irresponsible. Disgusting. Eww. So she wrote a post describing, in entirely misleading terms (we were total strangers! we had no discussion about it! a lady just blithely and irresponsibly passed her baby to a total stranger without a word! and that stranger - me, if you're keeping track - might have been diseased!) (she has since admitted to me that her representation of what happened was misleading), what she saw and explaining why she thought it was wrong. And it was wrong, from her point of view. Unsanitary. Dangerous. Wrong. Her commenters went even further: why, I might have AIDS! Be homeless! A drug user! Sexually loose! In fact, was what I'd done really any different from wandering into a bar and asking some strange man to grope my titties? Really? Also: AIDS! Or some other horrible virus. That, and my boobs - this helpfully noted by the author - were probably unsanitary, to boot. Also, I'd probably been drinking.

I can't even begin to describe how hurtful it was to read these things. This was me they were talking about. And Laura, who was as lovely a woman as I had ever met. Laura and I had just met, sure, but I think that we both hoped that we were becoming friends. And we share a belief - a healthy, woman-affirming, baby-adoring belief - that we mothers are all in this together, that we're all served and enriched when we trust each other and help each other. She had a hungry baby; I had excruciatingly painful breasts that needed to be released of their milk. We came together with our needs. You're welcome to say that you couldn't see yourself doing this; you are welcome, even, to cringe and shudder a bit in distaste. Whatever. We all have our issues. Just don't flaunt your disgust. And certainly don't use it to publicly shame mothers who make choices that you might not make. What I do with my boobs - what any mother does to ensure that her baby gets fed - is none of your business. And your public expression of disgust and alarm hurts. It hurts me, it hurts all of us. It reinforces the idea that breasts and breastfeeding hover on the very razor's edge of shamefulness, that these things on our chests are somehow, in some way, dirty and icky and bad, unless we operate them under the very strictest rules of propriety (only if they're covered up! only if it's your own baby! only if it doesn't make us uncomfortable! only if WE SAY IT'S OKAY!)

Memo to everybody: these? Are not your boobies. They are mine. And my babies? Also mine. I will nurture and nourish them as I see fit, and I will champion any other mother to do the same. Your disgust, your judgment threatens to undermine us, weaken us, take away some of our power as mothers who demand to make their own way and their own rules. Which, fuck that.

This is MY motherhood. These are MY boobs.

Hands off.

Memo to everybody: in case you missed what I said above - "You're welcome to say that you couldn't see yourself doing this; you are welcome, even, to cringe and shudder a bit in distaste" - I'll say it again (it seems that I need to): you are welcome to disagree with I did, and/or with what Laura did. You are welcome to say that you would not do this. You are welcome to voice a contrary opinion. I encourage it. I'm fascinated by so many elements of this discussion (not least, something that one commenter brought up - trust and community. Under what circumstances do we choose to trust or not trust each other, to take each others' words, or not do? Laura trusted me when I said that I was healthy and not taking anything that might compromise my milk. Perhaps this had everything to do with my appearance, or with the fact that I was obviously a nursing mother, or perhaps just with the fact that she had decided that I was simply worth trusting. I was moved by this. We need more of this kind of generosity of spirit in daily life) and I enjoy hearing different opinions. What I don't like: inappropriately expressed judgment or shaming. That's the whole point of the latter part if this post: shaming hurts everybody. If you're here to express an opinion, respectfully - great. I'll support and defend that. But if you're here to call names or point fingers or say anything that you wouldn't say to someone you loved, then maybe just turn back now.

Let's be kind.

Which means, too - and forgive me if it seems hoity for me to take this on - that everybody is very welcome to NOT direct opprobrium at the blogger mentioned here. This has no doubt been hard on her, and although I remain hurt and (yes, am juvenile) angry, I do not want her to be put through any more of a ringer than she already has. Please. Both she and I deserve some peace around this.

Comments on this post are now closed. I'm happy to read other posts on the subject - yes, even they disagree with milksharing - so if you write about it, please do let me know.

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520 Comments:

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Blogger Momily said...

Fascinating, thought-provoking and I have to admit I find it all a bit weird. Out of my comfort zone, I guess. The logical side of me knows that it's "no big whoop," that there would be minimal risk, that there is probably more risk with the formula that I feed my baby, than with a relative stranger's breast milk. Still, I can't get past the idea of letting my baby drink from a relative stranger. I also find it so interesting that our modern and permissive society has hang-ups with this, but going back in history to much more conservative times and Puritancial times "wet nurses" were a normal thing.

I think the comments about HIV/AIDs are also very thought-provoking. Those commenters are right - we need to get past AIDS=DIRTY. It is a hard thing to do.

I would like to comment more, but don't feel it is appropriate to do so without having read the other blogger's post. Did you provide a link and I just missed it or something?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Immoral Matriarch said...

I am hyperventilating at Jenny's comment. OMG She's insane. And sooooooo right on!

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to you sister!

I'd have done the same thing in a heartbeat, whether I had been in your shoes or in Laura's. That's what our bodies are meant to do. And that's why I donated my breast milk when my boobs went into overdrive with my first child.

Milk-filled breasts are dirty and unsanitary? Please! They are beautiful and part of the miracle that is life.

2:31 PM  
Blogger beanski said...

Nice work!

I have a friend that got a ton of extra milk pumping and donated it to starving kids...there are programs for it. Breast milk is like liquid gold for any baby, yours or someone else's. I think Laura's baby was as lucky as you were.

I also can not imagine going more than a few hours without nursing or pumping. Ouch. I would probably let a bum on the street nurse just to make the throbbing stop.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Kat said...

That fistfull of fish whatever lady has issues. Too bad she decided to splay them all over the internet in a hurtful manner. What a fucked up thing to do. I hope she has read this post and all the comments here and feels ashamed of herself.

Wet-nursing has been an honest profession for a very long time. I donated breast milk when my son was little to a friend who couldn't breastfeed her newborn. I didn't breastfeed her baby myself, but I would have, happily.

Laura was lovely and so very trusting and generous to help you out and to not have repressed neurosis on the subject. Lovely.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

No comments about the other post, which I didn't see, but damn, I could've used some friends like you guys when my son spent his first 22 months on earth screeching hard enough to alert the authorities every time there was not a lactating breast in his immediate vicinity. 2.5 years later and I'm still so damn tired...

2:32 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

OMG. I am just furious reading this. If I knew you better, I'd be cussing loudly.

For all of our education, America is still a land of hand-wringing idiots. Wet nurses have been around since the beginning of time. My grandmother nursed children who were not her own. My great-grandmother, and every other nursing mothers, nursed children in the death camps. I have a friend who adopted who took drugs and pumped so she could breast-feed a child not biologically her own.

Women and men -- but especially women who find this repugnant need to get the hell over themselves. In addition, how many of OUR mothers smoked, downed coffee and breastfed? Children lived and we got better education. However, when education turns into stupidity, maybe it's time to question its validity.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am posting this anonymously, I know that it generally takes away from the validity of the expressed position, but so be it.

I'm uncomfortable with the situation. It's not something that I would have chosen to do in the spur of the moment, from either your perspective or Laura's. Would I have felt differently if you were all stuck on an elevator and the baby had no access to food? Yes. Would I have felt differently if Laura was sick and needed to take medications that weren't safe for nursing? Yes. It's that it was a matter of convenience that just rubs ME the wrong way. Do I think I'm wrong? Ignorant? Stupid? A bitch? No. It's just the way I feel. To each his own, you do what you're comfortable with.

I firmly believe in blood donations, milk donations, etc. both to be given and received and in doing so, screened for infections and diseases. My desire to have things screened would be in no part a reflection on you or your habits, but rather as a person who has only had one sexual partner, no history of IV drug use, no history of a transfusion, etc. and had an antibody scare about a year ago. It's no social stigma, it's that shit can happen to anyone. To me, situations of dire necessity would supersede these concerns, so it's a matter of the two people involved in the situation assessing what a dire need is.

What really disturbs me is that this issue hasn't turned into a war of what's right and what's wrong, but rather a war of which blogger has the most vociferous followers. Mean things have been said on both sides of the issue. Comments on both posts have crossed the line. Both bloggers have framed it from their perspectives with their feelings. Maybe each side didn't necessarily like the other, but that doesn't validate the vitriol that has been traded back and forth in the comments on both sides.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

paperfairies - a couple of registered nurses have weighed in here to say that the risks are really minimal. Breastmilk is not blood, nor is it semen, nor is it urine, nor is it even saliva. It is MADE to counteract the bad stuff. Even mothers with very serious illnesses are encouraged to nurse their babies. Breastmilk is designed for health.

Obviously, that doesn't mean that we treat it blithely. But we shouldn't treat anything blithely, and we should be cautious about equating breastfeeding with, say, sharing heroin needles. Laura and I spoke about the risks. They seemed minimal. She was comfortable with the situation. End of the day, her trusting me to nurse her baby was very probably no more risky than giving the baby tap water, or borrowing formula, or accepting food served by a handwash-sloppy server.

Seriously, we need to keep reasonable heads about this.

(and, I get the love. thx!)

2:35 PM  
Blogger Alli Worthington { @fussypants } said...

{giggles}
Yeah, what Jenny said.

Seriously, you didn't tell everyone that we traded babies at Blissdom?

2:36 PM  
Blogger Amo said...

I want a 'Her Bad Mother's Milk Bar' shirt! I'll wear it at BlogHer!

But it should probably mention The Blogess' traumatic chicken-vagina incident as well. Poor thing.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous mothergoosemouse said...

Chickens have vaginas? And they lay eggs in PUBLIC?

*faints*

2:41 PM  
Blogger Leighann said...

I don't have a judgment one way or the other. If you were comfortable and the other mother was comfortable, who are we to judge? Selma Hyak did it and she was applauded. For eons there were wet nurses.

When we were at Camp Baby, I dutifully pumped as often as I needed to, to not only relieve myself of the pressure, but also to keep up my meager supply.

When it was time to leave, I got a call from the airline that my flight was canceled. I rushed to the airport to try to catch an earlier flight, or be stuck in NJ maybe overnight with no place to stay.

I only had the one carry-on piece plus my tote bag. The flight was so full that a person met me at the gate saying I was lucky to even get the seat and I had to hand over my piece of luggage.

All I could think about was getting back home.

And then it dawned on me at 3,000 feet (or however high in the skies we were) that my pump was in the bag now residing beneath the plane.

I had a layover of indeterminate length in Chicago. I was in increasing pain.

There was a couple with a baby a few rows ahead of me. All I could think about was that baby.

As we landed the baby began to fuss. People were very slow to exit. The baby fussed more.

I wanted to say, "Excuse me, would you mind if I nursed your baby for a few minutes...you know, just to calm her and relieve my pressure?"

But I didn't.

What I did do was exit as quickly as possible, run straight to the counter, and beg the attendant to see if she could get my bag.

She asked what it looked like. Um, black, like everyone else's.

Oh, oh! I tied a pink bandana to the handle.

The woman said she would see what she could do and went down the ramp.

A line was forming behind me. People tapped their feet, annoyed at the wait.

A good five minutes later she emerged with my bag. And my pump. And she directed me to a family bathroom with an outlet.

I was so thankful and finally relieved.

I didn't arrive back to my home for another three hours and there was no way in hell I could have lasted that long.

Long story short, I can completely understand where you were coming from.

2:41 PM  
Anonymous Mrs.Messiness said...

If your baby falls down and skins his knee, I will band-aide and kiss his boo-boo, if you can't. I hope you would do the same for mine.

If your baby needed to be cuddled and adored and you were unable to do it, for whatever reason, I would do it for you. I hope you would do the same for mine.

If your baby was hungry and needed to eat, I would nourish him - I hope you would do the same from mine. And if you were sitting next to me in pain and I knew I could ease it? I would. Obviously, you would do the same.

We are moms - that makes us not strangers in the eyes of our babies, but heros with boobies.

Good for you and good for Laura - moms being moms at a mom convention - who'da thought?

2:43 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I believe the whole situation was between you and Laura and everyone else should stay the FUCK OUT OF IT. (OMG, I can't beleive I just cursed on someone else's blog, but I am so sick of everybody being so mean to everybody else.) I don't know what I would have done, never being in that situation, but my first thought on reading your story was what an awesome person Laura was for helping someone she just met out and someone else had to ruin her nice gesture because of thier issues. Grow up!

2:46 PM  
Blogger lorrielink said...

well i missed all the drama since i dont know the other blog but im sorry you had someone who doesnt even know you or what you were doing post rudeness and ignorance about it.

as a nursing mother, you know you will always always run into these people. always.
i dont care how much the breastfeeding laws have changed, or the press or the 'commeness' about it. its still a big issue for so many people almost everywhere.

im on my second son. i breastfed my first till he was 2 and a half. and that was 9 yrs ago. when it was still illegal to breastfeed in public.
now im on my second who turned 2 last december and i cant imagine him *ever* considering weaning givin his appetite. i call him my little 'conan' (the barbarian, not the talk show host);)
so even women whom had been all "yay breastfeeding" hit judgemental road bumps when my kid could verbally ask for a nursing. go figure.

im so glad you post about this. its not nearly as commonly accepted as we would like it to be and it needs to be talked about. im so glad to see so many awesome women commenting here.
anyone who has never experianced engorged painful breasts have no place judging your actions at all. its a dabilatating pain. period.

*hugs* screw that chick. forget about her, you know she has bigger problems than you if shes so out of touch with this subject and with herself for slamming someone esle. she has a further road to walk than you to get to a good place. she may not have intended all the hurt this caused, may have had no idea this was so personal, so judgemental. it sucks when a lesson has to be learned the hard way.

hey, that was kinda judgemental of me huh? =)

2:47 PM  
Anonymous fragileheart said...

"Outraged" doesn't begin to describe how I feel about what happened to you. There is passing judgement on others and then there's passing judgement on others. That person who wrote the defiling blog post about you should be stoned.

Who the hell are they? If they're uncomfortable with it then they should make sure they never find themselves in the same position that you and Laura were in. But to spread negativity about your situation (which, she knew NOTHING about) is beyond irresponsible.

I can't say that I would have done the same thing you have (I've never had children so I have no idea of the pain you describe) but that doesn't mean I'm going to spread nasty things about you on the world wide web.

I can only hope that Karma serves them something real nice in the near future.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

The drama is almost too much to bear, isn't it?

You and Laura, two consenting adults, agreed that you nursing her baby was a solid solution to your out-of-control engorgement. That should be the end of the story. One can agree or not agree; see oneself doing the same thing, or not. But, really, it's nobody else's business.

Ah, but social networking suddenly *makes* it everyone's business. And now we see the ragged underbelly of the social networking beast. When I started typing this comment I was #209.

Children are being abused.

People are losing their jobs.

Families don't have enough food to eat.

People are living on the street.

Imagine if we poured some of our energy and outrage into these issues. Just imagine.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Heather! said...

jenny just ruined eggs for me forevah.

A couple years back I donated my freezer stash through the Milkshare YG. Same diff, yk?

You did a lovely thing.

2:48 PM  
OpenID verybadcat said...

Holy crap. What a shitstorm over nothing.

My Mom and her BFF had kids around the same time, and if one sat for the other, they fed too. Wet nurses- it used to be that if a Mom was wealthy enough, she never fed her own kid! Her wet nurse did it for her.

What you did, HBM is NORMAL. And we need you to do it, and to tweet about it and post about it. Because when I finally get myself knocked up, you'll have pushed every bit of fear, shame and doubt I have right the hell out of my head. Keep on keepin' on. I need someone to believe in.

Hell, I would feed your kid. Except I can't, because my boobies aren't magical yet. And I don't have a kid for you to feed. But you understand what I'm saying.

Would pay cash monies to go back to Friday of last week, take people who are SO GROSSED OUT by what you did, and show them an article about a freakin' PIG nursing a PUPPY, and see how they REACTED TO THAT.

Something tells me they wouldn't have had two words to say about it. But you feeding another human child? DIRTY.

F*ck the naysayers.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Annie @ PhD in Parenting said...

For me the real problem here lies in her judging what is right for you and Laura, for Laura's baby and for your boobs. It is none of her business. Period.

Your boobs hurt. Laura offered her baby. You were both comfortable with that and that is great.

Personally, I don't think I would nurse another woman's baby and I don't think I'd let anyone else nurse mine. I say "I don't think" because there could always be a situation that would cause me to change my mind.

My reasons for not doing it is the AIDS/disease factor. The fact is that even if I do trust another woman, I have to ask whether I really trust her husband. Can I be sure that he hasn't been sneaking around and given her some disease. And while I feel confident enough that my husband isn't sneaking around and therefore giving me some disease, there is always the remote possibility that I am wrong to trust him and if I nursed someone else's baby that I could infect them. Sure, I would also be infecting my baby in that instance as well, but I have to take that chance. I don't, however, have to take the chance with someone else's baby (or at least haven't been put in that position yet).

If I ever did do mom-to-mom donation or nursed someone else's baby, especially in the litigious society of the United States, I would probably want a legal document in place first to ensure that person wasn't going to sue me if I did in fact pass along some disease I didn't know I had.

But...it isn't my place to judge anyone else's choice, level of trust, etc.

2:50 PM  
Blogger EmC said...

Catherine--

I just wanted to be another positive/supportive drop in the bucket. As someone who has never breastfed a child, the situation weirds me out a little, but the more I rationally consider it, the less of an issue it seems.

It amazes me how heated people can become over a situation that has nothing to do with them. Obviously by writing this post and opening comments you are inviting opinions about the topic, but there's no need to judge or shame anyone.

Your blog is wonderful and I love following you on twitter. I hope your week picks up after all this.

2:51 PM  
Blogger G Love said...

Not sure you need another comment, but here's mine!

As a nursing mom, I would nurse another woman's child to relieve my pain in a heartbeat. It hurts so bad. As the mother of a nursing 10 month old, I probably would not let a new-met friend nurse my baby I don't think. But someone I knew relatively well, I would definitely do it. I think the choice you and Laura made was fine and dandy, but I'm also not at all surprised that someone found it gross. I have been chastised for nursing my own son, sitting in the corner of a dead end 50 feet from the main hall with a neck to knees black cape over us, my back to the main hall, and my mother sitting between me and any people that might wander by. Folks is just uptight about this shizz.

I read one comment someone left about an experienced baby nursing with a new mom, while the experienced mom nurses the new baby. I considered offering this to my sister in law when she had her daughter, but decided not to offer because i was pretty sure she would NOT find it ok. But I'm kind of a granola chewing tree hugging hippie, I guess.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Peggy said...

Holy Crap! What planet have I been on that I missed all of this!

Catherine, you were right...the other person was wrong! So wrong!

You throw a good party over here! :)

2:51 PM  
Blogger Innocent Observer said...

I was so excited reading the first half oh your post. How awesome! What a relief that we are evolving!

The second half, not so much. Mothers crapping on mothers; I don't really get it. Milk from the UDDER of a COW is SO MUCH more appealing. Remind me to choose that next time. Geesh.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous fragileheart said...

p.s. I'd like to write a letter to Goldfish so if you could email me more details I would love you for it (contact [at] fragileheart [dot] com).

Outraged, I tell you!

2:52 PM  
Blogger Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

Dadgum. I guess if nursing another baby is gross and disgusting then I might want to forgo posting about nursing my hubby?

I'm a naughty mommy.

I saw your first Tweet about nursing someone else's baby in real time, Catherine. Shook my head and knew there would be fallout for you. Am shocked though, that it came from someone at the conference. Thought it would be from someone who saw your Tweet and just ran ignorantly with it. In person ignorance is far more appalling.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Jerri Ann said...

and here I was thinking I was some kind of hero because I offered to go to the store and buy some children's tylenol for your baby and look what you've gone and done...yes, humanitarian, even if I can't spell that or Selma or what ever her name is...you go girl!

2:53 PM  
Blogger Anyabeth said...

I really do not get the Hate on this. My mother breastfed both my sister and I. And . . .our cousins when she babysat for them. Was completely normal in our family circle. If the mother is ok with it (volunteering) and Catherine is ok with it and the baby clearly was ok with it WHY is this a big political issue?

This is about feeding children. How is feeding a child gross? Ever?

2:56 PM  
Blogger seph said...

i would have done the exact same thing in your shoes. and in laura's shoes too. i would've handed over my always hungry, boob-loving son to your overflowing milk without batting an eyelash.

screw the crazy spaz women who calm their own insecurities by publicly humiliating others.

oh, how i long for a society without such a tragic breastfeeding phobia!

3:00 PM  
OpenID geeklady said...

I feel your pain vis a vis engorgement - only I never have problems getting milk OUT. I've been known to have milk shoot out up to a foot from my boobs, through a wool nursing pad, bra, and blouse.

Laura was extremely kind to you, and I could hug her for it. That level of engorgement sucks.

But I also sit here and not know what I would have done. It doesn't bother me to think about nursing or otherwise providing milk for a baby that needs it. I want to think I would have offered to let you nurse GeekBaby (at your own risk, he has 6 teeth and a contrary nature). But I just don't know. This is going to bug me for days, I just know it.

@kateypie I'm way confused with you equating drinking 20 diet cokes with doing some sort of drug or other risky behavior. Granted, diet coke tastes yucky, and there's some debate in the scientific community over whether artificial sweeteners contribute to obesity by interfering with the body's ability to accurately sense its calorie intake, but other than that aspartame is benign.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Amy Jo said...

I have nothing to say except RIGHT ON!

3:02 PM  
OpenID ThisFullHouse said...

I am so glad to have worked up the courage to walk up to you at BlogHer '08 and say "I love how you write!" With baby in tow and everything, you did NOT even flutter an eyelash, you were so kind and wonderful. But, you're readers already know that. Good on you, Momma!

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

I think we all want what's best for our children. And as mothers, we generally want what's best for all children. Funny, though, that my idea of 'best' and someone else's idea of 'best' might be so vastly differently. For what it's worth, I have offered my breastmilk to mothers who either weren't able or weren't willing to nurse their own babies. Nobody ever took me up on the offer, but that was their choice. Conversely, I don't think I would be comfortable giving my baby someone else's milk, but I've not been in a position of need.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Lora said...

Good for you. I would nurse another baby in a minute, and if my baby needed fed and was in the care of someone I knew and trusted was drug and disease free (seriously tho, would you be a nursing mom if you WEREN'T, I think not) I would beg her to feed my child. It's what we are supposed to do as women.

3:03 PM  
OpenID ThisFullHouse said...

See, I'm so flustered for you, I can't even spell...but, "your" readers already know that :)

3:04 PM  
Blogger CheekySweetie said...

I just want to point out to the posters who have said it isn't something they would do, but they have respected other people's right to choose otherwise are awesome. You don't have to agree to be tolerant of others' choices.

3:04 PM  
OpenID livinginagirlsworld said...

I am so sorry that you were so hurt by this unnecessary judgement. I commend you and Laura for doing what was right by each other.

My basic philosphy on life is, if you don't walk in someone else's shoes, you shouldn't judge them.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Sara said...

If you had nursed the baby because the baby's mother was unable to nurse, I'd be 100% supportive of it. You nursed to relieve your own engorgement, and so I'm.. Ahh.. Oh... About 99% supportive of it. :)

I donated milk to 3 different babies/moms, and even though I had my blood work done just before donating, they never asked to see it and when I showed it to them they breezed over it. One of them basically said this: If I didn't trust you, no amount of paperwork would make me trust you. Talking to you is what makes me trust you. The test results are extra.

Even with moms that have AIDS or other illness that nurse their babies day in, day out, their infants are very unlikely to become sick from mom's milk. They're more likely to become ill while being gestated or born.

A breastfed baby's gut is properly closed, full of antibodies, full of stem cells, full of probiotics.

Breastmilk of another woman is less likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria or viruses than formula is.

I probably wouldn't have loaned my baby to you and would have suggested hand expressing some milk (and offered to show you how) or loaned you the breast pump that I travel with instead. But that's just me. (Besides which, my son fixated on "me" at around 6mos and wouldn't nurse on anything else including bottles/pacifiers, so he'd probably be pretty much useless unless he was ravenous and I wasn't around.)

Laura was awesome to loan the baby to you, and you were awesome to be able to get past the weirdness of society and nurse a baby that wasn't your own.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Cassi said...

I would've done the same thing had I been in your or Laura's position. Thank you for being brave!!

3:11 PM  
Blogger kateypie35 said...

@geeklady - perhaps Diet Coke was a bad example...HA! I wasn't equating it to hard drugs - just naming examples of things many nursing women ingest freely that I personally do not ingest while nursing.

Which is exactly why I would not let a stranger nurse my child. I just don't trust someone I just met to be as careful as I am. And I have a right to that opinion/feeling durnit!
I avoid artificial sweeteners, caffeine, do not smoke or drink, am not on any medications, etc. I did get a tattoo though.

For the record, I do not think Catherine is digusting, dirty, filthy, gross, unsanitary, etc. I think this whole thing is getting completely out of hand. I have had several women e-mail me who feel the same way I do (would not let a stranger nurse their child for valid health concerns) but they are too afraid to voice that opinion on here for fear of being attacked.

The internet sucks a lot sometimes, doesn't it?

3:11 PM  
Blogger Sarah Yost said...

I nursed another baby once. You know why? No good reason, other than bravado and because the other mom and I wanted to see what would happen, what it would be like.

What it was like was weird having another baby's lips on my (baby's) breast. I felt the warm rush that comes when I hope people don't find out what I'm doing.

Theoretically, I think it's FINE. I'm not ashamed of doing it, and I wouldn't take it back.

It reinforced how intimate it is to nurse my baby. Her lips are different than the other child's, her suck stronger and narrower. My baby's body felt different curled into me than the other baby. My baby is mine and while nursing her I study every inch of her little body, her being and know just when her eyes will roll in the back of her head, sated and sleepy.

Still, I don't think I'd let another mom nurse mine unless I really trusted that she was free of strange substances and diseases which is the only possibly valid issue with casual nursing, as far as I'm concerned.

Not that what you do with your body and baby is ANY of my business or anyone else's.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Sierra said...

BRAVA! BRAVA! BRAVA!

I'm not a mother. I'm *only* a young twenty-something who respects and appreciates them. I was a breastfed baby myself (until age 3), and have been surrounded with nursing mothers (at work, friends, family) my entire life. It is not strange to me, or foreign.

My own mother nursed a good friend's baby while she was watching her one day. I was still nursing at the time (we were no more than a year old) and the friend asked my mom to nurse her daughter. No strange request...we were both almost exclusively breastfed at that point and she was leaving her child for a whole day! Nothing weird about that.

I applaud you, Catherine. It's all already been said, so I won't try to restate it...but YOU ARE AWESOME. As are your [perfectly healthy, normal, baby-feeding] boobs!

<3

3:17 PM  
Blogger jodifur said...

2 consenting adult consented to something. A mother consented for her child. Why do we care?

3:17 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

KateyPie - I think that I've been clear here that I have no problem with disagreement. I fully support any mother's right to say that she wouldn't do it.

The issue here is whether it's okay to shame ME for doing it. And I say it's not. This has never been about me wanting to stop discussion - in fact, if I had posted about this absent the controversy surrounding the other post, I would have asked my readers the question directly. Because I'm interested to know.

I just ask that discussion be respectful. It was not respectful, at the other blogger's blog. It was shaming. And she misrepresented what she saw to fuel that discussion.

WRONG.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Melamalie said...

(note: the original post was taken down before I could read it)

I'm imagining a scenario:

I'm out in public.
I see someone doing something that makes me uncomfortable.
It's not major enough for me to walk up and say something directly, but it sticks with me.
I worry about the safety of the children involved.
I think and think and think.
I wonder if this is something I should tell my blog-readers about.

So what do I do?

Option 1: Read. Educate myself. Learn about what I witnessed. Research the safety, the ethics, the opinions. Figure out if the things that made me uncomfortable were true, or just my opinion. Only then would I post about it on a blog - and then I would post what I had learned. I wouldn't attack the character of the people involved, or deliberately spread and encourage misinformation. I would report what made me uncomfortable, why it made me uncomfortable, what I'd learned, and what my opinion on the subject was, and I'd do so in a way that protected the identity (as much as possible) of those involved. And then I'd moderate comments to keep the tone respectful.

Option 2: Post a hate-filled blog post, encourage flaming, and avoid moderating comments, including those spreading hate and misinformation.

I think if the original blog post had been more like option #1, this would be a discussion about the health and safety of sharing boobies, rather than a full on character-assassination/defence.

Bravo, Catherine, for staying cool and writing an intelligent and well-thought-out post. You have enough supporters here that you could have said, "OMG SHE HURT MY FEELINGS" and got a "posse" of supporters, but instead you took the oportunity try to start an intelligent discussion. Good for you.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recently I was at a party were a group of women were discussing Selma Hyack(?) breastfeeding a stranger's baby. We all agreed there was nothing wrong with it. Generally, I have a germ phobia thing going on, but when it comes to breastfeeding babies all bets are off. I highly doubt drug-addicted prostitutes are frequenting the Parenting Conference scene. It's time to get the message out - boobs were meant to be functional not ornamental, and who we trust with our boobs is our business! You did the right thing. Well done. -Shannon in Portland, OR

3:20 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

Oh Catherine!

I just don't know what to say...I am honestly touched by what you did, and I see the comfort it provided you and the need it filled for Laura's baby. You write so eloquently about this, you really do and I know how much you are hurting because of what that other person decided to blast all over the blogosphere, but know this - it is just one person's opinion - and her people.

Truth be told, I had NEVER even heard about her before this. NEVER.

You know how I feel, I support what you did - for a variety of reasons, and while I was never as bold in my nursing days as my sisters of now, I think it is the most natural, nonsexual, normal thing in the world to do.

I was lucky it came easy to me and my children and will always remember it fondly, despite the saggage left behind.

Love to you C.

3:24 PM  
Blogger kateypie35 said...

@HerBadMother - yes, you have voiced that well. you are open to discussion, i see that.

3:25 PM  
Blogger SupComTabz said...

Full disclosure: I'm not a mom.

Now, I only came because of the Twitter drama and trying to figure out WHY it was drama. And really... I didn't get why it was such a huge deal with Salma Hayek did it and I don't think it should be a big deal that you did it.

Hundreds of years ago this would be no big deal. Wet nurses were all around. Families and communities saw nursing children as something beyond just one mom to one child.
And, as you said several times, the moment was beautiful. Not because you bonded with that child, but because there was a shared sense of nature. You were both mothers, you both had children, you hurt and she cared.

Is it really about boobs? Or is it about our insecurity as humankind that we can't see this being a very natural, very palpable part of life?

Now, I understand concerns Laura might have about you taking meds and possibly that effecting the baby, but those were addressed and talked about. They're no one else's business but Laura's.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

Having spent 36 hours in NYC without a breast pump when my youngest was 5 months old, I would have leapt at the chance to nurse someone else's baby. I don't think what you did was weird or gross - it was a choice made by two adults.

I kind of feel about this the way I feel about those who don't approve of abortion. Don't like it? Don't have one.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

My four year old is pestering the FIRE out of me to get on the computer, but I have to say this right now. Only someone who has never, ever had breasts full to the point of EXPLODING with no relief in sight would ever speak poorly of your decision. There are so many things I could say to this, but I know the pain you were in and I would have grabbed anyone - a baby or a grown man - ANYONE - who was willing to relieve the pain.

3:29 PM  
Blogger mocha beanie mummy said...

Um, can I please meet your bewbs? Cos they sound awesome. And it's a great shame other people think they should be kept under lock and key, for fear of "soiling the nation" (yes, my words).

And I'm curious - do you think you'll ever eat another egg again?

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Krista said...

I was once out with a friend, and she realized she'd forgotten her diaper bag at home and didn't have her baby's formula or bottles with her. I was nursing a baby at the time, and so I nursed her baby too. It was weird, and it was neat, and I'm glad I did it, and I was REALLY glad the other baby was willing to accept that unusual situation, being an exclusively bottle-fed baby.

I wouldn't, though, go all indignant about "my body" and "my baby" and "my choices," because I think it's more confusing than that kind of rhetoric makes it sound. For one thing, it's not my baby. For another thing, it's my body and it's also somebody else's body (the non-mine baby's). For yet another thing, it's my choice but it's also the other mother's choice. It sounds to me like you're confusing this with the whole "breastfeeding is inherently disgusting" issue, which I'd say is a different issue--though obviously connected at points.

And as an above commenter said, there ARE issues with babies drinking milk from other mommies. You were aware of the issues yourself (medication, disease), but then you got kind of THERE ARE NO ISSUES EXCEPT OUR RIGHTS AS MOTHERS there at the end.

3:30 PM  
Blogger zchamu said...

Totally the last thing I'm going to say about this. Unless I say more.

Why does the original blogger seem to think it's totally OK to say shitty things about someone as long as she didn't name names?

Newsflash: It's not. Especially if the person you're saying shitty things about knows you're saying it about them.

3:31 PM  
Blogger The Grown Up Teenager said...

I'm a fence sitter on this one.

I don't think the specific instance of what you did was wrong, because you agreed to it and the baby's mother agreed to it, etc. You made the decision for yourself, she made the decision for her child. Fine and well.

Would I ever offer to nurse someone else's baby, except in case of emergency to the baby (stranded somewhere with no bottles and Mom's milk is dry type thing)? No. And would I pass my baby to someone I had met in the last 48 hours to nurse him or her? Not a shot in hell.

But that's me. That's my decision. Yours is different and I can respect that.

However, the blogger who disagrees and posted her opinion isn't wrong to do it. The post is down, but from what I understand, she didn't name you or link you. She wrote a post that was anti-milk sharing, not anti-breastfeeding. Personally, I think she's just as entitled to her opinion as you are to yours.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Lotta said...

I think you should order a few crates of milk to be delivered to her doorstep eh?

3:38 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Krista - I don't think that issues concerning health and issues concerning our rights as mothers contradict each other. It is MY right to make decisions concerning the health of my children - likewise my friend Laura. We make those calls - not uninformed nosy parkers with opinions about how we SHOULD be doing things.

A mother's right to decide how she nourishes and nurtures her child is, in my opinion, pretty paramount. Laura made an informed choice. It was hers to make. I made mine; it was mine to make. You're welcome to disagree with those choices, but shaming us (not saying *you're* doing this) for those choices is tantamount to trying to take our right to choose away.

3:38 PM  
OpenID mommymae said...

WOLVERINES!!!

oh, wait, wrong blogger.

as a currently nursing mama, my boobs were in pain with every tweet i read from last weekend. once i saw that you had taken care of the engorgement, my boobs literally let down a bit b/c i could so feel where you were coming from. you are beautiful and don't et anyone tell you any different, mama.

3:40 PM  
Blogger imaginary binky said...

So, I'm reading through this, scratching my head, and I head over to the Fishful Thinking thingy just to see what it actually is.

"Inspire Optimism and Positive Thinking in your child."

And then I'm thinking, um, how is that other woman's post a reflection of that phrase?

And it's not. Clearly, it is not.

The actions of the poster would not inspire a child, much less a forward-thinking woman or man. The only post she has up about the conference now (but wait! She's going to repost the damning words so that more traffic and controversy will follow!) makes fun of everyone she encountered along the way, the toothless brigade and the ever-annoying hotel workers just trying to do their job.

And, again, I ask myself, how is that inspiring optimism and positivity?

Pepperidge Farm, you had a woman sitting in your Fishful Thinking conference who did exactly what you've asked of her: she gave selflessly to another person's child. She inspired me and put all kinds of happy positively in my person. I think if Laura's kid could speak, all kinds of joy would be expressed.

I won't even begin to tell you the hilarious comments that came out of my stand-up comedian husband's mouth after I told him about this debacle. But, seriously, you can feed my kid any time.

3:41 PM  
Blogger To Think is to Create said...

So proud of you for all of this, every little bit. Honored to know you, woman.

xo

`Ari

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There seems to be a misconception on both sides that HIV, AIDS, Hep C, etc. are diseases related to social condition and behaviors. A drug-addicted prostitute can be negative and a wholesome SAHM, PTA president can be positive. That doesn't mean hooker is clean and the PTA president is dirty. It also doesn't mean that either person knows what their status is. These diseases are indiscriminate. They can affect everyone (even despite best efforts and practices), they are present in this world and they do need to be considered.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Lotta said...

Holy crap! I went upstairs and then had to run back down to the computer. I hope you know I totally mean that YOU should send HER a crate of milk. Cause she's breast milk phobic. Totally fretting that I wrote that the wrong way.

I think you are awesome. What a great moment in motherhood support turned into something awful and mean.

I'm sorry you all had to deal with this.

3:46 PM  
Blogger kateypie35 said...

There is something that confuses me about the internet. And I swear I am not being snarky here, it really puzzles me.

Many commenters seem so up in arms that "its Catherine's business and nobody else's" and "why does anyone think they have the right to an opinion on this?" etc.

But, but, but...its the age of electronic media where everything you do can be broadcasted BY CHOICE to thousands of people, does that argument stand?

I mean Catherine announced her actions on Twitter knowing full well she has a huge following...she even said "I may lose followers for this...". Isn't she then giving her permission for people to have an opinion, and opening up the topic for discussion? (hopefuly respectful discussion.)

Do people then have the right to then slam her or be rude or mean or threatening, NO, NO of course not. That's not what I am saying. I just don't understand all the comments implying that we should all be just minding our own business. Seems ludicrous to me considering the whole point of Twitter. Fascinating.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

While it's not something I think I would choose to do, I think it's disgusting that another mother would judge and disparage you for it. Not her business. Period.

And after all you went through in the beginning of this breastfeeding journey...look how far you've come!

3:47 PM  
Blogger Fiona said...

It is interesting ... you have just put a face and story behind the original post that I read. I'm pretty sure I commented in the "no way" camp. After reading your post and remembering the PAIN of engorgement I see it differently.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There seems to be a misconception on both sides that HIV, AIDS, Hep C, etc. are diseases related to social condition and behaviors. A drug-addicted prostitute can be negative and a wholesome SAHM, PTA president can be positive. That doesn't mean hooker is clean and the PTA president is dirty. It also doesn't mean that either person knows what their status is. These diseases are indiscriminate. They can affect everyone (even despite best efforts and practices), they are present in this world and they do need to be considered.

ADDED: I should have added that it's the comments that are distressing me regarding this issue. The initial posts? Well, the two parents made their choices.

3:50 PM  
Blogger savvy said...

You rock, Laura rocks, boobs rock!

3:50 PM  
Blogger chermonblie said...

Yeah for Laura being an open minded caring mama. Shame on whatsherbutt for speaking anything but praise about a nursing mother! Hopefully one day she will realize that she's part of the problem!

Good for you! I've been nursing for 20 months and wonder if the wrath of my toddler might be worse than my own if the boobs were deemed unfit for public display!

My child's need will always come before "their" comfortability! (is that a word?!)

3:57 PM  
OpenID madgetastic said...

I wonder if that woman has ever been badly engorged, or even nursed for that matter. Because I've been there and, let me tell you, I would have nursed a rabid dog to relieve the pain.

You took the much more sane and tender route. BRAVA!

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

what is the original article? I would love to read it.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Eva said...

Other people are weird. This is totally reasonable. Is nobody aware that this is totally normal in many societies?

4:01 PM  
Blogger C Lo said...

PHEW! finally figuring out what all those tweets are about! I *looove* being outside the clique. (sarcasm)

1) KatiePie35 is right........if a popular blogger does something, she can do no wrong. Blogging is now the grown up version of high school. People are practically falling overthemselves to suck Catherines tiddays because she's popular. And no one will tell her she's wrong because if they do they will be bullied. And of course the bullies try to justify and deny their bullying. Oy.

2) That said.......it's really sad that she even had to make this post. It seems to me these days the worse sexism against women is perpetrated by other women. When is it EVER ok to imply that a peer is some disgusting, depraved, vagrant? I think the whole thing just takes us down a notch...both sides, sorry. This isn't a big deal. Making it a big deal, making us take sides, making it a popular girl issue just disrespects the whole thing.

When are we going to stop giving a crap what other people do with their boobies? I mean, seriously. Just do try to make ME nurse off you, and we're all good.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Robyn - Chique*Life said...

I sent a note to Pepperidge Farm expressing how aghast I am that this unknown freak blogger is affiliated with the company.

Hi - I'm writing in to let you know how appalled I am at one of your "Fishful Thinking" bloggers. In truth, I don't know her name, but her hateful message is bouncing around the internet linked to YOUR company.

Catherine Connors, who blogs as Her Bad Mother, attended a recent event of yours and privately, quietly nursed a baby. The problem, in your blogger's eyes? THE BABY WAS NOT HERS.

And so a negative, hateful diatribe was written, with no conversation with or input from the participants. Is this the kind of person you want representing your company?

Catherine has class, and has not revealed the name or blog of the offending party. But I'm sure you can find out pretty easily.

I trust you will take appropriate action.


Campbell's used to be a client of mine - and they take comments pretty seriously.

I'm sorry that some Americans are so narrow and self-righteous and that you were exposed to this.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Frances said...

I give this post 2 thumbs up.

You go girl.

Had I been there in the same position? I would've offered you my daughter too.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Awake In Rochester said...

I read the other post, and I think that your both overreacting. It's not worth starting WW3 over. Neither is it worth losing a friend over.

4:09 PM  
Blogger TheFeministBreeder said...

I think this is one of the coolest things I've ever heard. I'm not sure who I'm more proud of... the woman for offering (I certainly would have been hesitant, in the off-chance that the woman might have been more like the "offended" mothers and would have slapped down my offer and run away screaming) - or you, for accepting. Either way. Cool stuff.

http://thefeministbreeder.typepad.com

4:19 PM  
Anonymous C said...

I think it's awesome that (A) Laura offered and (B) you accepted.

My daughter was very very ill when she was a week old and almost died. She spent 3 weeks in the hospital and then needed (and continues to need supplementary calories because she is behind in her growth and only eats about 2/3rds of the ounces she's supposed to in a day based on her weight).

I've been pumping since her birth, as we also had issues with latch initially. She now screams bloody murder at the boob so I've only ever been able to breastfeed her a handfull of times, sadly.

I am also cursed with low supply, maxing at 16 oz a day no matter what. My best friend had a son a few days after I had my daughter and she was incredibly generous to offer her excess supply to us. If Elanor would latch I would have happily handed her over, or if her son needed nursing, I would do it in a heartbeat if I could.

I will admit that before I went through this I might have thought the situation was "icky"...but having my daughter has helped me grow as a person in so many ways. Today I stand up and applaud you.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I read the post in question and commented before it was taken down.

I have no problem with the blogger in question disagreeing with cross nursing. Hell, CATHERINE doesn't have a problem with her having with that opinion.

There is a difference between voicing an opinion and hurling shame and judgment at someone else for making a different choice than you would make.

I have made an ass of myself in this very forum about breastfeeding and she was kind and compassionate about hang ups that I have and talked it out with me, even though I was disagreeing with her statements.

THAT is true discourse and so far from what was written on that other blog it isn't even funny.

There was no possibility of true discourse about nursing over there because of many things.

First, the timbre of the piece. "Rent-a-boobie"? Implying that some incompetent woman at a small blogging conference who was unable to hand express or find a breast pump whipped out her boob and and asked to nurse some random baby?

Very few people wouldn't jump on the bandwagon of "HUH?!" the way she described it. But that is sooooo far from what went down.

Also, it was so full of descriptions and situations and thinly veiled, that even though she didn't NAME her, Catherine was immediately identified. With the tone of the piece and things being said? There was very little chance was it not going to be personal.

For the author to cry confusion about this now is naive at best.

The bloggers attitude in response to this bothers me a LOT. She is highly unapologetic for anything. Flabbergasted people could take such offense to "an opinion". That she did nothing wrong. That it was her blog and she had a right to her opinion!

It wasn't "The opinion" that is pissing most of us off, chicka. It was the way it all went down. The way it was presented and the way she did nothing to step in when gross exaggerations and allegations happened. (She made a few doozies herself.)

Honestly? It's like she was sitting in a crowded theater and smelled smoke from the next door BBQ place and yelled OMG! I SMElL SMOKE! and then is shocked and awed and takes no accountability for the hurt and injury because DUH! There WAS NO FIRE! No real threat!

It was just bad, bad blogging all the way around. And NOT the GOOD kind of Bad that is Her Bad Mother.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Hi Catherine

I love your blog and read it daily. You are a great writer.

I've not commented before and I didn't think the first time I did would be to voice a (partially) dissenting opinion. However, I feel compelled to now as some of the comments left on this blog suggest that there cannot be more than one view on this subject.

I have a son who is now 18 months old. In ordinary circumstances, I wouldn't have let anyone else breastfeed him for the simple reason that are a number of infections that can be transmitted through breastmilk, as well as medications that are not recommended during breastfeeding. Consequently, not all breastmilk is a positive health choice for a child and whilst I am very knowledgeable about my own health status I don't consider that I have sufficient information about anyone else's health - hence I wouldn't personally have done what Laura did.

I should add that I appear the picture of health, as my lifestyle revolves around nutrition and exercise. However, unknown to everyone except my partner and my doctor, I have an STD. It's not life threatening one (or even one that can be transmitted through breastmilk) but I don't think you can judge anyone's health status from their appearance or how much you like their personality.

I didn't get a chance to read the original blog post (the one that was removed). I can imagine though that reading about what was essentially a private decision of yours (and of Laura's) in a public forum was not pleasant for you. On the other hand, I do agree with the couple of commentators who have said that the strength of the reaction from your loyal fans has also been a bit OTT. Not everyone would have done what the two of you did - the unfortunate thing was that you were both publicly criticised for it.

4:20 PM  
Blogger Pop Culture Casualty said...

Hello old friend - I had to come over to the blog to see what all the twitter dramz was about. And I loved reading your post. Good for you my dear. I'm not a mother - but you don't have to be to find what was written on this other blog offensive. It's your body and it's Laura's baby and it's entirely your own business. Other cultures have done this for years, it's natural and doesn't deserve a label. Go get em lady!

4:23 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

To everyone who is concerned about the tenor of discussion of HIV/AIDS - I did not start that discussion. It was started on the other blog, and perpetuated in that comment section. I reported, in my post, some cross-section and the tenor of that discussion to make my point about finding it offensive and hurtful.

It was the other blogger who used terms like 'unsanitary' 'dirty' and linked it to disease. (She also nudge-nudge-wink-winked some comments about me being a drinker, which she repeated on Twitter.) And her commenters ran with it.

I noted above that illness is not commensurate with 'dirty,' and that many mothers are encouraged to nurse even if struggling with illness.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I told my wife about this post and she nearly threw up in her own mouth!! I think it's completely disgusting to breast feed someone's baby that isn't yours and my wife, a mother of 5 (and breast fed every single one of them) feels EXACTLY the same.

You mentioned a concierge? Does that mean you were in a hotel that you had a room in? If so all you had to do was go take a hot shot and the milk comes flowing... My wife had to do it several times so I'm not speaking out the side of my neck!

and by the way... two bash sessions don't make a right!!!

4:28 PM  
Blogger Atlanta Mommy said...

Hungry Baby + Engorged Breasts = Relief, for both parties. I remember what engorged breasts felt like. Mind-numbing pain. It's sad that someone had to turn this into more than what it was. I'm sad that breastfeeding is still so controversial. Hopefully it won't be like this when my daughters consider nursing theirs.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

@HMB

And if she had been 1/2 as diligent as you are at stepping in your comments and making clarifications like that, many of these statements and allegations would not even be a discussion right now.

Ehem.

4:30 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I am so sorry that such hurtful things were said. When I was about 3 months old, my Mom came across one of her friends crying in the church bathroom. She had recently had a baby too and for some reason her milk wouldn't let down that day. She was crying, her daughter was crying. Mom offered to nurse the little girl so that she would be fed and then they could figure out the milk thing once every one was calmed down. She didn't tell me until I was going through struggles with breastfeeding my own son because she thought I would have thought it was weird or gross or even have felt betrayed. Not at all. After all that I went through to feed my own son and having friends who did everything they could and just were never able to, it is such a joy and blessing to be able to nourish my child and I hope I never take it for granted. I would have been so honored to nurse another's child.

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Juliet Eccleston said...

I have followed this on twitter and can't believe some of the comments. In so many cultures this is such a normal thing to do.

Lets embrace something that is for the good of a mum and a baby.

For those with negative comments, maybe they have never experienced the connection between mums and the pain of being without their baby as well as the physical pain of engorged breasts. I feel sorry for them.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Hol and J said...

Thank you for posting this. I admire and appreciate your transparency, considering the subject and situation.

While I'm not yet a mother, I didn't feel that what you did was gross, wrong, or should have received the flack that it did. If I had been in your situation (either side) I would have been appreciative, and would have seen that there are "friends" and then there are a few real, honest to goodness, do anything for you, friends.

You and Laura both deserve big hugs.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Read some history books of the amazing women that were pioneers, taking care of each...they did that ALL THE TIME! They all helped each other and breastfeeding each others' baby was NOT abnormal at all. It was a way of life...it was how the human body worked...it's what they did for their "sisters".... Who cares what those uneducated idiots said.... they're pathetic and if that's all that have to write about then they suck anyway.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all I am a huge supporter of breast feeding and have no problem at all with the act you describe.

That said I really dislike the tone of this post and the surrounding buzz, both here and on Twitter. It reminds me of all the other blogging "controversies" I've read through before. I shudder to see grown, successful women acting more like high-schoolers than mature adults. For example, comments like “what a sicko,” “Can you post a link to the offensive blog so we can tell the judgemental ignorant so and so exactly how wrong she is,” and others. Rather than having a grown-up conversation, all I see is high-fives, “poor catherines”, and “oh that nasty other blogger”.

The one woman who asked oh-so-very carefully if maybe you were only looking for “bravas” was met with a very clear, “Brava is the generous response” by you. You are not looking for differing opinions. This is your right (it is your blog, after all), but why pretend to be open-minded?

Catherine, you have a public blog and are a public figure (celebrity, even) in the blogging world. You regularly speak at conferences, you shape the conversation, and you have a large and very loyal readership. The great thing about being a celebrity is that you get a lot of perks. You feel good. You have fans. You get opportunities that many people don't. But, like most things, there's a downside. The downside is that you are more likely to get picked on by people who are jealous or judgmental or just looking for some minutes in the spotlight. People are more likely to talk about you, in good and bad ways. People will watch you, when you’re out in public, and they might write about what they see you doing. They might even write about it in a mean or less-than-accurate way. These are the downsides to being a public figure.

I take issue with your statement that “What I do with my boobs - what any mother does to ensure that her baby gets fed - is none of your business.” Let’s be honest, that is not entirely true. What other moms do IS their business. You, on the other hand, have repeatedly made what you do with your boobs our business- and the business of everyone who will listen- as evidenced by this post as well as the other two that you’ve linked to in this post.

The fact that you write about these topics on a public and well-trafficked blog, that you are a blogging celebrity and that you choose to speak at conferences and do other public activities all add up to mean that you can EXPECT to be judged for your actions at a very public place like a blogging conference. Just like Britney Spears gets judged more harshly for her choices than the average non-famous woman. It comes with the territory. If you don’t want to be judged you can either take back your private life by stopping blogging, or you can do some activities, for which you don’t want judgment, in private.

I think your message would be stronger and I personally would respect you more if you acknowledged that you have put yourself in the spotlight. Take issues with the judgment, fine, but not the fact that it is happening. Because that is directly under your control. If you really don’t want to be judged, take your blog down or password-protect it and I promise everyone will stop caring what you do or don’t do with your breasts.

Right now it’s feeling an awful lot like you are taking advantage of the situation. This post reads like a publicity stunt for HBM thinly veiled as a supportive post for the choices of breastfeeding women.

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

don't I sound like a real ass-jack! I meant to say "Take a hot shower" not take a hot shot LOL!!!

4:41 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

There is so much weighing on my heart it's hard to put into words. As a nursing mom I know what kind of pain you were in. Laura allowing you to nurse her baby was just one of the many ways we women support one another. Why can't we do that more often? Have you ever noticed it's other WOMEN who approach us in public places and ask that we cover up or go to the bathroom to nurse our babies? Why can't we women support, encourage, help, love one another while we struggle day after day to be good moms and make the best decisions for our children. I think it speaks volumes of how natural and right nursing is that Laura's baby took to your breast without issue. Who are we as women to judge each other?

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Boston Mamas said...

I applaud and commend your and Laura's actions; the act was full of instinct and love and necessity. It was {gasp} MATERNAL.

I feel utterly depressed when I read about idiocy, close mindedness, and utter inaccuracy as that you described. But I know karma has a way of making the rounds...

-Christine

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Lee Turner said...

I have to say that I am totally amazed at the extent that some people have gone to in their response to this. The lady who wrote the original blog post should be ashamed of herself.

Well done is all I have to say. I would have done the same thing and I would have supported my partner doing the same thing as well.

Just my thoughts from a father to a breast fed baby.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Karen (miscmum) said...

You've been put in such a difficult position doing what you felt was right for yourself and the baby. This was just the business between you and Laura. That this has been blown out of the water is unfair to both of you. I also wonder how she's doing?

4:46 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Caroline - Morningside Mom said...

Holy 288+ comments! Boob talk will do that.

Anyhow.

What you did? Nurse that baby? BRILLIANT. No it was. I have been there and in such pain before and so so sick to my stomach desperate for relief, its like nothing I have ever experienced before. I was lucky enough to have a friend lend a pump. I was beyond grateful. But I would have been equally as grateful if a mother with a child offered the same thing. What a brilliant idea. And what a wonderful story of generosity, motherhood and sympathy.

At least the first part was wonderful. No words for the rest of it. :(

4:48 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

@anon 4:41

Those of us following HBM tweets know this already but the woman HAD. She had hot compresses on her boobs and had expressed as much as she could. There comes a point where you CAN'T and trying causes bruising and makes it a WHOLE lot worse (I've been there)

That was part of the frustration: She could not hand express any longer and she could not access a pump.

I don't know if that makes it less gross or not, but I thought I'd save HBM some time and answer your question.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Badness Jones said...

You go girl! I think you (and Laura) did an awesome thing. My son weaned a few months ago, at 2, but this week he was sick, and he lifted my shirt and asked for milk, and when I told him sorry, it's all gone, he asked me to take him "store mom! MORE milk boobs!" We could've used someone as open and caring as you around here.

4:52 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

Meaning 'Less gross for you".
Just a clarification.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous - about this being a publicity stunt? no way. I didn't ask that blogger to write the post that she did - that's beside the point. I wrote this post for me - and everything up until the last few paragraphs, in which I address the controversy, would have been posted regardless of any controversy. Hell, I tweeted that I did it. It's what I do. I mother publicly. So, yeah, I know that I face judgments. I accept that.

BUT. I think that I've made it very clear here - in the post and in comments - that I'm totally fine with disagreement. In fact, had I posted this absent the controversy, I would have asked, at the end of the post 'what do you think?' would you do it?' Because I am sincerely interested.

What I have taken exception to is two things: first, that the blogger in question misrepresented the story and twisted facts to make it seem more salacious than it was. She admitted to me, in an e-mail, to doing this. I haven't - and don't - take issue with her disagreeing with what I did - but she shouldn't distort the story (nor should she go on twitter, as she did, and accuse me - on no basis - of drinking irresponsibly while nursing.) Secondly, I disagree that disagreement can and ever should take the form of public shaming, of using words like 'disgusting' and wondering out loud whether the person in question has AIDS or is a drug addict. To try to make this sordid does a dis-service to all women, and to breastfeeding generally. Which is why it is, for me, about breastfeeding. Until people become able to voice their disagreements/opinions around breastfeeding without resorting to salacious story-telling and using words like 'disgusting', we've all got a problem.

4:55 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

BAck in the day, a lot of babies would have died were it not for wet nurses.

I'm glad you and your new friend, and her baby, were able to help each other.

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was just an article in O magazine about a woman who'd lost her triplets but still had milk and donated a huge amount to a local milk bank and it was a very touching story.

Maybe the involvement of the nipple to mouth contact is the issue - I've asked other mothers and they've said that if there was a fussy baby they would PUMP and then feed the baby for a friend or relative.....

I agree that 100 years ago this would have been no thing because babies whose mothers milk didnt come in either DIED or got hip with a wet nurse. My great-grandmother wet-nursed the whole neighborhood and when I heard that, I was PROUD. It used to take a village to raise a child and I'm sure this is way more common, globally, through time then we americans think.

Also maybe different circumstances - starving baby/concenience? I would hope no one would have any issue with breastfeeding a baby or hell, a bigger KID if given no other option.

4:57 PM  
OpenID mythoughtsonthat said...

Sounds like there was a problem and a solution was found. That should have been the end of it but ....not in the blog world! The ruckus here, there and everywhere is just crazy- I have to look away!
When I first started reading blogs, I didn't know the unwritten rule: don't disagree with the blog writer. Please don't say it's not there- it most certainly is. I made the mistake of disagreeing, very respectfully, and was taken care of promptly, even being called names. You can bet I'll never do that again!
It sounds like the offending post was harsh and off the point. But so is all this! I don't write about many controversial issues on my blog, but if/when I do, I'll accept any and all comments for what they are: just that person's opinions. Or I'll quit writing. That, my friends, is life.

5:05 PM  
Blogger meli-mello said...

Many years ago my exboyfriend's Mum nursed the neighbours child on a regular basis because the neighbour couldn't. We all grew up together and knew about it and it never seemed weird at all (the boys were born a couple months apart). Seeing as my daughter was ALWAYS hungry and I know the pain of full breasts I wouldn't think twice about letting a friend (or almost friend) nurse her. In fact until I read this post I never thought anyone would think it was weird. I think it is weird that someone was freaked out about it.

5:07 PM  
Blogger One Crazy Chick! said...

Bravo!

I would have done the same thing! Exactly except I probably wouldn't have made it to lunchtime. I would have been holding a sign, "WILL FEED YOUR BABY FOR FREE!"

5:08 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Came to you through a friend. A beautiful, wonderful, intelligent post.

What is "disgusting" is how you've been judged for doing something that was nobody's business but yours and Laura's.

5:14 PM  
Blogger April said...

uhg, i got stuck somewhere without a breastpump for 12 hours once at a time when my kiddo was used to nursing every 2 hrs. i would've given my right arm for a nursing baby. ANY nursing baby.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HBM 4:55, I understand where you’re coming from, and can acknowledge that this post is not a publicity stunt (that was too harsh, I apologize) and more something you are passionate about. Fair enough.

Still, this post and many of the related comments and tweets have an unnecessary witch-hunt quality that I dislike. For example you are clearly, in this post and on Twitter, going after the unnamed blogger's relationship with the goldfish campaign. The implication is "mess with me and I'll take you DOWN." This is just ONE example of the mob mentality that makes people such as me fearful of attaching our names to our dissenting opinions.

And, to be clear, by “mob mentality” I mean “hurt one of my peeps and I’ll blow up your car.” There absolutely IS retribution whenever one of you perceives that she has been wronged. Whether this retribution is an attack on another’s credibility or just a verbal attack, it does occur. Please give the rest of us the courtesy of acknowledging the fact that you and your friends do act this way.

Furthermore, if you are holding this other blogger accountable for not controlling her commenters, it only seems fair that you would be responsible for controlling the tone of comments here, on your blog. I'm disappointed that I don't see any gentle reminders from you to treat other commenters with courtesy and respect. The few commenters who left thoughtful but differing opinions were scared off by the resulting response. If you really want to hear both sides, you must make it absolutely comfortable for dissenters to disagree (as long as they're respectful, of course). This means acknowledging them when they make a valid point, and thanking them for their honesty.

I have much respect for your mind, your mission, and your writing. But I do not like your- and your friends'- approach to dealing with those who disagree with you. If the behavior of mommy bloggers is to improve, it has to start with people such as you.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous TheoBaskind said...

WOW!! This is absolutely amazing!!

It seems the majority of people who are saying nasty things are logging in as anonymous... If you're going to slander someone at least have the sac to come out from behind the curtain...

As for the issue of breast feeding someone's child that isn't yours that's completely between the two mothers.

Luckily my wife was successful at taking hot showers to relieve the pressure, like "anonymous" said but I'm sure every woman reacts differently to various methods.

I do commend you for attacking the issue head on and not taking any "guff"!

I follow the blogger who started this whole mess on Twitter and I do have to say she has dropped my jaw!!

I can't believe she would post so haphazardly and only admit she "may" have misled people with her post in a private email and not publicly...

Oh... and I feel sorry for the close-minded soul who immediately jumped to the conclusion that the person who raised the "issue" on their blog was a man!! Holy "gender profiling Batman!"

psst... it was a woman my friend, not a man ;)

I don't know a single man who is offended by a woman breast feeding in public... if anything it's the direct opposite LOL!!

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More power to both you and Laura! The amount of fear and loathing surrounding the natural use of our bodies is profoundly disturbing - breastfeeding another woman's child has been done since time began for any number of reasons.
I am struggling to feel compassion for the woman who blogged such ignorant, hate-filled, fear-saturated comments....
Lynne (veteran breastfeeder of 4, homebirth midwife of 22 years)

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read both posts now and I think it is being taken way out of context. She never named you and said "you" were dirty or had aids or such. It was a thing of, if you don't really know the person that you are letting your child feed off of, is it right?
Personally I think if thats what you want to do, Great! But I would worry if I had just met someone that day. With drug use and such in the world, you just don't know. No woman is going to say that she is addicted to prescription pain meds or something. Im not saying YOU are addicted to pain killers... but the fact is that she didnt say that either. It was hypothetical. It was a this is what I saw.... would you do the same thing?
Anyways... its all ridiculous.. She has the right to post whatever she wants as well as you do. Im actually amazed with how far the both of you are taking it on twitter and on here. Guess its a thing of, if someone doesnt agree with you or her then we are all wrong and sick. Sounds like a fight of LA gangs. People are even saying on your comments here that anyone who doesnt agree is just horrible. And you have stated that for her to post it and have a following of people agree that its eww is teaching people wrong. OH Get over yourselves already. Im really tired of hearing about the breastfeeding wars...

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh.. and yeah I posted anonymous.. Seems like both parties here seem to have a bunch of radical followers that I don't need following me around trying to use agressiveness and such to sway me to their sides and opinions

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just have to add this one more thing in response to TheoBaskind,

"It seems the majority of people who are saying nasty things are logging in as anonymous... If you're going to slander someone at least have the sac to come out from behind the curtain..."

CASE IN POINT. The ... at the end of that sentence implies the logical end of the sentence, which is, "...so that we can take pot shots at you."

Trolls say things without substantiation, which are hurtful and mean without being constructive. Honestly I think their comments (whether anon or not) should just be deleted so as not to give them the attention they crave.

But as for people who honestly disagree? These people are posting anonymously here because this is not a safe environment in which to disagree.
That will continue to be the case until you, Catherine, put a stop to it the abuse by your supporters against those who would disagree with you.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Velma said...

Yargh.

There will always be people flinging poo around on their blogs, which is why it's a joy to come to other blogs like this one and read through an eloquent discussion of the situation.

"Her Bad Mother: A POO FREE ZONE."

Catchy, right?

5:26 PM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

I must say I'm so glad to be "out of the loop" when it comes to drama.

The idea of nursing someone else's baby has occurred to me in the abstract of the baby needing nourishment but not in the sense of a mother needing relief.

But just that it never occurred to me doesn't mean I wouldn't approve. It's a lovely and very kind gesture.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Kristy said...

People are so closed minded. I say if she agreed, and you agreed then it's really no one else's business. And her sweet baby obviously agreed.

5:34 PM  
Blogger Allycat said...

Wow talk about all sides of the spectrum (although a spectrum doesn't really have sides does it? oh....) Anyway, I would LIKE to think that I would do the same in your situation. I think it shows two responsible, mature and free thinking women who made a decision that felt right to them. I would like to think that I was also capable of that. Also, it is even the world of celebrity are doing this - http://mamamia.com.au/weblog/2009/02/would-you-breastfeed-a-strangers-baby-salma-hayek-did.html

5:36 PM  
Anonymous TheoBaskind said...

@anonymous

WOW! you looked so deep into the (...) it's practically funny!!

It's cool to disagree and have a strong point of view but the name calling is simply mind-boggling.

5:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@TheoBaskind
as far as I can see, most of the name calling was by HBM's advocates, at least on this post.
I don't like your suggestion that anonymous comments were nasty comments. Not true. Well, not always. there was that one person who used all-caps...

5:46 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anon: I'm not, nor have I been, going after the blogger's Fishful campaign - it came up because SHE made a point of it, accusing me (and others) of being critical of her because of past weirdness with that campaign. (Also, the incident occured at that campaign's launch symposium.) I've actually spoken on the phone with the CEO of the PR company that runs that campaign and - although he told me that he would ask her to take it down if I asked (and if she put it back up) and I said no.

My gripe is not with the campaign - but the campaign became relevant when she began insisting that this was all about the campaign. 'Nuff said.

Also - I've been doing my best to monitor comments here, but we're now well over 300 and I haven't been able to stay on top of them all. Where I could, I supported commenters who expressed differing opinions. I haven't had the time or psychic energy to be a go-between this time around (although ask any regular reader here - I regularly step in ask commenters to play nice.) And I haven't stoked any disagreeable flames - which is exactly what the other blogger with her (at the time) twenty-something commenters, goading them on, and making suggestions - that she KNEW were false - that who knew whether I'd been drinking?

Her behaviour there, and on twitter (where she repeated the accusation about drinking) have been defamatory and mean-spirited. I've done my best to not stoop to that level, maybe not with %100 success, but with some. And, yes, my friends get upset on my behalf, AND on behalf of the issue. That's a whole 'nother topic. SIGH.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just LOVE that people can't have opinions on blogs anymore without getting this internet posse to gang up on someone.

Mothers are the worst when it comes to this. You had a child, you are not a saint.

The post in question that was so hurtful? So what? You did something in public and it got observed on a blog. Blogs are our thoughts and day to day lives. I would LOVE for you all to come to my blog and tell me I'm wrong for writing about the woman I saw in the grocery store with dirty children and bare feet talking on her cell phone buying all the sugar in the store. Whatever, it was my observation.

Next time, if you don't want someone to not like what you are doing, then try to do it more discreetly.

Or how about this. Buy a t-shirt that says you are copyrighted and no part of your person can be mentioned ever. This is udder bullshit. (pun intended)

Guess what? I plan to feed my kids with bottles and dare another woman to even bring her tits near mine. How about that?

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Meg said...

Catherine, you are an amazing, wonderful lady. I applaud you and Laura for what you did.

I know the pain of engorgement and no one can point fingers until they have felt it, too.

Honestly? When I first read your tweet, I didn't really care what you did. Okay, you nursed another child. Strange. But reading your words, your feelings, made me realize just how it all went down. You were hurting, there was a hungry child, everyone involved was happy. And I'm proud of you for owning it.

These trolls? They need to get over it. They were not involved. Hell, they can even be freaked out about it, but there is no need for finger pointing and name calling. Not their body, not their child, not their problem.

Bravo for what you did. It was what your body was made to do.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And by the way, I find it incredibly comical that people are blasting the blog in question for "name calling" and hurtful things when they are doing the same thing here. Nice high road you're looking down from??

5:56 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I am an avid reader of your blog and de-lurking to tell you I applaud you. My two aunts had babies a month apart and they always laugh about an incidence when one aunt breastfed her niece when she wouldn't stop crying and the mother wasn't there. I applaud Salma Hayek and almost wish I could feed every malnourished baby that needed it.
Everyone was right when they stated that this was between you and Laura, it really isn't anyone elses business. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world, but I dare say that you have to experience it to have a full appreciation for it. I can understand other's dislike for it, but not their judgement.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Good for you and Laura. Listening to your hearts, bodies, and babies, that is what we are supposed to do.

I am currently pumping for another woman's child who she can't nurse. Is that wrong? No way. Neither is what you did.

I know the pain of engorgement and know how desperate you become for any kind of relief.

That woman should have kept her nose in her own business.

5:59 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I can only speak for myself, but frankly, I don't agree with you, anonymous. Anonymous comments do have their place in the internet world.

However, your reasoning just seems cowardly to me.

Courage would not be courage if it were EASY and "SAFE". It doesn't take a lot of balls to make statements that oppose majority if you do it from underneath a rock or shield of anonymity.

The comments section of the other forum was not any safer than this one. There were many "psycho" statements being hurled at Catherine.

And yet?

With the exception of two bloggers (one who seemed to have bad history with the author and more focused on her than the post)
EVERYONE who supported HBM went into a place where they were the minority, spoke their objections AND had the responsibility and spine to post their names and blog links.

"Safe" or not.

In fact, most of the anonymous comments were there bashing the supporters of Catherine. (I have all 100 of them, if you'd like to read them.)

You absolutely have the right to remain anonymous. ABSOLUTELY. Because Catherine has allowed it here.

But in my opinion you should stop blaming Catherine or other commenters for your inability to shed your hood and stand up for yourself and your comments.

That's your cowardice. Don't put it on her and others.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anon (who said I need to put a stop to my supporters attacking those who disagree) - I don't see a lot of attacking (not here - I have not revisited the other blog post since late yesterday, after I left my one comment.) Anyone who is expressing their disagreement civilly is not attacked. I, in fact, have supported a few people who disagreed respectfully. I *invited* respectful disagreement.

But again - AGAIN - this was never about disagreement of opinion. This was about someone telling a story - about which she had no direct information, only having observed from a distance and made assumptions - in an admittedly misleading manner and encouraging her commenters to take the misinformation off in all sorts of twisted directions (she herself even alluded that I might have been drinking, which was entirely untrue). So my beef with the blogging side of this has always been about the controversy-baiting on her part, and the misleading way she went about it.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous TheoBaskind said...

come on now @anonymous. If you read my comment it says "it seems". There are 324 comments on this post so I have no idea if ALL of the anonymous comments are nasty name callers.

I simply said "it seems".

and I'm certainly not picking a side because I feel both bloggers are at fault to an extent. When someone has a voice that people listen to actions/words should be mulled over for a bit before being expressed. That is a lesson I'm currently teaching my 14 yr old son.

There is a difference between an honest opinion and couth.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But Loralee, you've proven my point.

If this blog is open to disagreement, you shouldn't need COURAGE to disagree. The fact that you do means the blog and its community are not supportive of disagreement. And so what purports itself as open-minded really isn't at all.

As for the other stuff, I didn't read the original post and don't agree with its content as described. If I had to pick a side I would have landed on HBM's. The reason I keep commenting, I guess (I keep asking myself this question) is that I honestly hate the attitude of spite and vitriol that I keep seeing in the mom blog community and I believe that the only people who can change it are people like Catherine. And you. Who have courage, especially when courage is more than sticking up for your friend, but rather standing up to your friend when you think she's in the wrong.

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you seriously went to the CEO of the blogging community or whatever and talked to them about this?? They want to get involved over someone's PERSONAL OPINION ON A PERSONAL BLOG? Wow, guess I'll never visit them.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HBM-
I'm not talking about disagreeing about the breast feeding issue (although in an early comment you did say you were open to hearing both perspectives, which it now appears you are not). I'm talking about disagreeing with the way you are handling this situation. You know, "with great power comes great responsibility"

And now I'll stop commenting b/c it's abundantly clear that my thoughts on the mob mentality and civil disagreement are frankly not being heard. Not surprising. If I expected a different reaction, I wouldn't have felt the need to hide behind anonymity.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Mama Bub said...

First of all, I remember vividly the pain of engorged breasts. I would have nursed at cat in your situation and heartily applaud Laura for doing what needed to be done.

Secondly, why does there have to be so much attacking? Motherhood is so many choices, so many decisions. We're hard enough on ourselves about whether or not we're doing the right thing for our children, why do we have to do this to each other?

You've moved me again. I'm thinking I would like to move into your blog and just absorb your awesomeness by osmosis.

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine, you've done a wonderful job at making yourself a martyr.

I read the original post in question and sad truth is, as a twitterer/facebooker/blogger I had NO clue who you were.

I read the story with mild amusement of an observation of someone that had a trip she wanted to share with her readers. The ONE paragraph in the original version was barely noticeable except for me to think "wow, what strange things she saw while at this event".

You and your little crew (which you all have had good high school training and will no doubt raise your little angels to school yard bully around anyone they don't agree with) have turned this into internet war and I find it highly disturbing.

Before this, had I run across your blog just in passing, I would have been happy to have another blog to read. Right now, I'm seeing more than a little irony in the fact that your name has "bad mom" in it.

6:15 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anon - he called me. It was not the first time.

She wrote the post as a representative of the campaign, about something that happened at their event, involving someone that they had invited as a special guest to that event. And then she told people who were disagreeing with her that she figured they were just doing so because they didn't like the campaign.

I was the architect of none of those things.

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Morgan McFarland said...

Last summer, my friend Sarah and I were interviewed on Good Morning America for a cross-nursing segment (I had nursed Sarah's baby on a few occasions while she had oral surgery). The feedback from the viewers was largely positive, but of course there will always be those ignorant people who are incapable of equating breasts with anything but sex. It's a shame that this narrow-minded individual would target you for attack like that. Know that you're not alone (by far!) and there are many other generous mamas out there who nursed another baby in a time of need or simply because that's what friends and family DO for each other in some cultures. Keep up the good work, mama!

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Heather said...

As a mother who sought out donated breastmilk and *gasp* let someone else nurse her child, I just want to commend you and Laura for trusting each other in that moment.

How I wish discussions about wet nursing/donated breastmilk (and every other parenting discussion, for that matter) could be about real issues and not shame. If people had solid information, I think they wouldn't judge so completely or so swiftly.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous (most recent) - you didn't read the original post. it was removed. you read the previous post, in which she just mentioned what she saw in passing. the subsequent post was harsh, and presented the facts in a misleading manner (she admitted this to me in an e-mail, straight-up) in order to make the whole thing more salacious.

I have no interest in being a martyr. I DO have an interest in doing what I can to counteract shaming wherever I see it. That, and like telling my own stories. The story above? Is mine. I shared it. And I called out whatever forces in the internetverse want to make something shameful out of it.

If that's not your bag, whatever. Sorry to disappoint.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL Morgan. The only reason people could possibly view it negatively is because they look at breasts as sexual??

No, no way, it couldn't be because they just have different opinions and don't like the idea of it.

I'm the type of person that doesn't like strangers hugging, touching or getting too close to me. So it couldn't possibly be that some women just don't like the idea of such an intimate act being done by someone else to your child.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Mocha said...

Let me go back just a wee bit in the way of an explanation:

After having ONE baby while I was in high school I went and got pregnant again. SHOCKER. So, I placed her for adoption. She found me 6 months ago. It's been ridiculously blissful and I proudly state now (with NO shame) that I have four kids. FOUR.

When she went to live with her new family I would have LOVED for someone else to nurse her if that were a possibility. She would have gotten the best possible nutrients and would have bonded with another human being. A woman. Who lactates. Who cares not that this wasn't her biological child. That would have been a blessing and I'd be grateful for it.

That's why I'm grateful for you and your unselfishness. I can't get caught up in the rest of the drama (and yes, I realize it's hard to separate it) because it's one opinion from a person who will never be able to see that beauty and sacrifice. We can't force people to do such things. We can only hope that the act of what we've done was enough.

It's enough, Catherine. Let it be. You are wonderful beyond the words I could express here.

OH. Pun! Look at me! I'm funny!

xoxo

6:29 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

Caveat: I didn't read the other post, nor have I ever heard of that other poster, and I wasn't paying attention to most of the twitters because I didn't get what they were about.

I think so much of this is about the age of the women involved. I'm a generation older than most of you, and sort of pre-aids, when nursing another woman's baby wasn't really a big deal. I did it with my friend's baby a couple of times when she couldn't get out of work in time to relieve her au-pair. No big deal. I had more than enough milk, she knew I was not a drinker, druggie, or doing anything unsafe.

My mother nursed my cousin who was 3 days older than my sister. Nobody thought a thing about it. It was what mother's did to help each other out. When my aunt needed a night out, my mother babysat and nursed both babes. My aunt returned the favor. No biggie, no worries. It was what women did.

But in this uptight, we have to be perfect mommies society, you always focus on the negative and find fault with other people's parenting. It's a TERRIBLE time to be a mother. There is so much focus on how to do it right, how to be the best mother if you only read these books and these web sites and follow this pediatrician's advice. For heaven's sake, it's just crazy. In the 50's, when I was a baby, there was one book...Dr Spock. And if you read it now, you'll see that it's not a judgemental book at all, so unlike the "What to Expect" stuff.

You younger mothers are just setting each other up for failure by continuing to be so judgemental and minding other people's business. Had that other blogger just turned around and spoken to herself rather than to blog something that didn't even INVOLVE her, none of this brouhaha would have happened.

But I do have to say, in her defense, that you DO have a strong and vocal posse, and it has to be scary to have hundreds of women come down on her. Not that she didn't deserve it for starting this up in the first place, but geesh... can we all be a little bit kinder?

6:29 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

I'm posting this anonymously because I don't want this traced back to me. I'm also using an IP blocker so don't even try to figure out who this is. I'm serious. I'm like a masked avenger. Secret identity and everything.

What someone needed, to avoid this, was a more clear concept of "personal attack." The other blogger with that site in the place that rhymes with Aily Onde who is a woman who had a post up yesterday? Needs to understand that "unnamed" doesn't equal "anonymous" or "impersonal". That definite descriptions (oh, Hi there Bertrand Russell, how are you?) are pretty damned good at fixing identity. Even if it's only in one person's mind, a correct identification through a definite description like "One of the women this weekend at the Goldfish sleepaway camp thing" (although some would say that's indefinite, since it says "one", but it's way more definite than "I once saw the following happen...") by you know, the person involved has to play a role in the moral consideration about whether to say what was said as it was said.

That is, did she ever wonder "If Catherine reads this will she know I'm talking about her?" Because her "I didn't name names" line only works if it's true that people can only identify themselves if they are named.

I'm pretty sure she could pick herself out of this comment right here. I haven't named names though; this is just my opinion. So she shouldn't have any reason to be upset.

Phew. Sure am glad I posted this anonymously. I'd hate to have named my own name.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

Dang.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I have disagreed with Catherine in the past. ABOUT BREAST FEEDING, ironically. And I do not think that I would cross nurse, and I have stated that.

I disagree with you about disagreement not truly being allowed on this blog. It absolutely is. As I have said, I have disagreed here and HBM treated me with respect. She is my friend.

Sure, there were people who threw things, stomped their feet and pouted. There are very passionate loyal fans here and this is a very high traffic blog. Some people were big meanies...but that is um...life on the internet?

People are not going to give you warm hugs and flowers for taking a dissenting opinion on such an impassioned subject. Some may, but that is just unrealistic.

There have been no threats of violence, no utterly obscene things flung.

I suppose in a perfect world, stating opinions of dissent on the internet would not require any courage and we would all hold hands and sing Kumbyah. And there would be cookies served. And chocolate milk.

It would be wonderful for my ulcer and anxiety.

There are very strong opinions on the internet. To me, it takes courage to voice a dissenting opinion on it, no matter where you are.

I was scared posting at the other blogger's place but no way would I go anonymous. If I say it, I stand by it.

(Though, I have to agree w/HBM's comment that I do not think people have been as rabid as you are claiming)

If you really think this is an unsafe place to speak or that bad? You really need to surf and speak up in more places.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I have no interest in being a martyr. I DO have an interest in doing what I can to counteract shaming wherever I see it."

aren't you shaming the original poster from here to talahassee?

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Samantha said...

A) I think it was lovely that Lauren was kind enough to help Catherine when she was in pain. There isn't enough of that in the world today.
B) She was at a convention FOR PARENTS (at which Catherine was apparently well known)so I think it was fairly safe of Lauren to assume that C whas telling the truth when she said she was healthy and that her milk wasn't comprimised.
It's the right of every mother to decide in a situation like that, though.
B) I think the issue has been blown out of purportion. The original post seemed to be nothing more than negative gossip about two women. Whether Anonymous knew who the story was about or not, HBM knew and was hurt by the accusation that she was doing something wrong. She has a right to be offended when someone posts something malicious like that - even if she is parenting publicly. She's a human, not a robot.
C) There have been a few reviewers on HBM's side who have taken it a bit far - asking for a link to the other author's blog so they can bash her isn't respectful or productive.
D) I think Catherine has handled the comments to this post very well - or as well as one can with two active children to look after.

That said, I think the story was a touching and I'm glad someone was able to help you when you needed it, Catherine.

6:41 PM  
Blogger daniloth said...

I just have to say that the academic idea of breastfeeding another baby leaves me with mixed feelings, but I suspect the biological imperative of emptying overfull, throbbing breasts would totally help me get over any squeamishness!

Thanks for standing up for the rights of moms to do what we feel necessary for us and our kids.

And if you're interested, there's an article on babble about breastfeeding kids other than your own. I found it interesting and thought provoking.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are very strong opinions on the internet. To me, it takes courage to voice a dissenting opinion on it, no matter where you are."

So the same could be said of the other blogger who everyone is so pissed off at right now? She has a RIGHT to another opinion even if it isn't puppy dogs and rainbows.

So, with what you said, this blog war should have just gone by the wayside. But you still perpetuate it. And so does Catherine who decides to make this long winded post about feeling so hurt over the words of someone on the internet. If you tweeted about your personal experience then why feel the need to keep trying to convince others to hop on your bandwagon. *shrug*

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Catherine- I think what you and Laura did was fine. I would do it in a heartbeat.

Caren

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the other blogger wasn't voicing an opinion though - she telling an exacturated and untrue version of what really happened. if she wanted to post about cross-nursing, she should have just posted about cross nursing. there was no need to drag HBM or anyone else through the mud by insinuating that she'd been drinking.
as for the martyr thing - how in the world does being offended make you a martyr?

6:47 PM  
Blogger CheekySweetie said...

I think if you didn't read the original post and comments, it is easy to assume that this is all vitriol. If you want to see a mob mentality, you should have seen the comments over there, and the hateful things that were said about Catherine and Laura, and fueled by the poster's comments.

I haven't seen a single person where who disagreed like an adult get slammed. Again, over 300 comments are hard to keep up with, but I believe I read every one. The issue wasn't presented as, "Would you do this thing that I observed? I would/wouldn't and here's why." It was presented as deviant and the other words used were "irresponsible, disgusting, unsanitary, and dirty."

No one is saying everyone on the planet needs to feed each other's children. The point is-you make the choice that seems right for you, and let others make the one that is right for them.

It makes me think of surrogacy. Pregnancy is an intimate act typically between mother and her biological child, but sometimes, people are not able to go the traditional routes and other women step in and make it possible. It is a personal agreement between prospective parents and the surrogate, it is not "disgusting, deviant, unsanitary, irresponsible, or dirty."

Not every woman would be able to be a surrogate, or have one carry their child. But for the people who can, and agree to do so, it is their right to make that choice. They don't push their choice on anyone else; they merely ask for their choice to be respected.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I suppose pointing out the fact that you continue and perpetuation the situation as well would be pointless, huh?

She has an absolute right to voice an opinion. (And BTW? Her opinion is actually THE MAJORITY. Cross nursing is not a subject that America in general is supportive of)

She Absolutely Has That Right. But with rights come responsibility. She will have accountability for HOW she expresses that opinion. If you choose to state an opinion and make it very UN rainbows and puppy dogs? Prepare for some thunderstorms and mutt-like behavior.

And obviously? Many, many people saw big things wrong with how this went down. Including me. YOU have a differing opinion. WE are BOTH speaking up about it.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

To clarify my last comment: I was referring to the other blogger in my comment about having rights to state her and is in the majority with her opinion, not HBM.

I realized I may have not been clear about that.

This is also addressed to anon. 6:41

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the fear of breasts and breastfeeding totally exemplifies the sexual schizophrenia of north america.

i don't understand why there is so much mom-on-mom hate in the blogosphere. when/if i am a mother, i will never share my stories on the internet. even though there is so much support, there is also so much judgment.

stop hating each other, ladies. we have enough to contend with without judging each other for amazing things like breastfeeding.

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

also, what jenny the bloggess said. she is my hero.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

I breastfed both my kids for 1 year. The entire time I got "ewww, gross, s/he spit up Haley's breast milk all over you" and "he's always on your boob," and "again!? you have to feed him again." Just constant comments. Yes, it was hard being called "disgusting" for breastfeeding.... I can understand that....

Anyway, I think the discussion is REALLY fascinating. It's really too bad it had to spring from so much animosity.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

GREETINGS! :)

I think it's amazing that this woman, Laura -- a stranger at the start of the day -- allowed you to breastfeed her baby. I also think it's REALLY cool. The note about the trust involved is also amazing. Now THAT is trust.

As you know doubt know, Salma Hayek has received a fair amount of criticism -- as well as some love -- for feeding another woman's baby recently. This baby was starving. The baby you nursed had a food source (her mom or a bottle, not sure which), so, yes, the baby benefited, but your getting to nurse when you were in such pain was an act of love to you. Again, hooray for that mom.

And if that baby (who I do suspect is nursed) so easily accepting "another mother" for her meal isn't the BEST example of how natural breastfeeding is, I don't know what is.

For the record, I'm not a mom... so I've never breastfed.

7:16 PM  
Blogger SAIA AND CHAGO said...

Love that you and Laura, separately and together, did what you thought was right.

Love that others don't necessarily agree and feel (sorta)comfortable voicing their opinions for the rest of the world to see (and challenge).

Love the passion the topic of breastfeeding (or not) always elicits.

And love that here in one place there are easily over 100 other bloggers that I'm excited to visit that I may have never seen otherwise.

Phenomenal times we're living in, don't you think?

7:17 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I think it was beautiful for her to offer her child to you, and for you to move past your own inhibitions to be able to nurse another woman's child. I'd like to be able to say that I would have done the same thing, but I'd have to be in that position to know what I'd do.

It's a shame that others have such hangups about feeding a child. They obviously haven't learned about other cultures where any nursing mother nurses another's baby when he or she is hungry. Or wet nurses. Or milk banks - here in the US. *sigh*

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

To: Anon 6:41

"So the same could be said of the other blogger who everyone is so pissed off at right now? She has a RIGHT to another opinion even if it isn't puppy dogs and rainbows."

Absolutely. She has the right to her opinion. And if she had stuck to just stating her opinion, in a respectful manner, and chosen words that were less, in my opinion, inflammatory and not at all conducive to a civil and respectful discussion with her readers then, fine. But she did not.

The original poster chose her words poorly, and should own that choice. When anyone communicates through writing, without the context of sight and sound and the other senses that let us observe things like sarcasm and so on, too much can be misinterpreted. To prevent that, words must be carefully chosen for not only the intent, but also for the potential misinterpretations of readers for this phrase or that word. Her words were poorly chosen if she did not intend to unleash such a backlash, especially considering the polarizing topic of conversation that breastfeeding (rightly or wrongly) tends to be.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Melodie said...

Wow! I have never seen a blog with 356 comments before. I want to high five you (smack - there I high fived the monitor) for doing what you did And you just won another subscriber.
I'm sure I might have more to say to defend you having been reading about historical breastfeeding this past week. But my mind isn't working so great today, soooo... now I want to read the other post you mentioned. Geez. Sounds awful!

7:26 PM  
Blogger Suburban Turmoil said...

Feeling the need to add here (apologies if it's been added already- my eyes are giving out from reading all the comments) that this whole HIV argument is ridiculous. Catherine is breastfeeding her own child, who she cares about, as we know, more than anything in the world. Would she really be breastfeeding her own child if she suspected she might possibly have HIV?

Of course, maybe she has HIV and doesn't know it! And maybe a giant anvil will fall on my head when I step outside. You just never know what's going to happen, do you? I think it would be as safe for a mom to take her chances with Catherine's boobs as it would be for a mom to fly with her child on an airplane. Or leave her child in the YMCA nursery. Or, or any part of the ordinary business of day to day living. You weigh the risks here as you do with anything and the risks are ridiculously minimal.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Amy Ruth Webb said...

My baby was born at home and very small. He desperately needed to eat, as he couldn't afford to lose any weight at all and of course, my milk hadn't come in yet. Both of my midwife's assistants were nursing at the time and they both offered to nurse him. They also donated milk and some extra nursing sessions, as my son had major latch problems. I will be forever grateful to those women for extraordinary generosity. It was one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me and my child. And by the way, I was a bit concerned about HIV afterward because a third woman whom my midwife knew, but I had never met had also donated milk. I asked my (very straight-laced) pediatrician about it and she said the possibility of transmitting HIV was negligible and not to worry at all.

7:34 PM  
Blogger Marinka said...

This is in response to Heather's comment 'it's a shame that others feel such hangups about feeding a child',and even though I just put quote marks around it, I may be misquoting.
I don't think that that's what this is about. I think we've beaten the "HBM shouldn't be mocked, ridiculed, shamed for her choices" horse to death and performed a postmortem on it as well, and I don't think that there is anyone with a brain wave that disagrees with that. I mean, it's not like she's approaching random stangers and fastening their babies to her bosom for sport.

I have been absoliutely engrossed by this post and the comments.

But to me it's not about nutrition. This isn't the The Grapes of Wrath. It's about a decision that two mothers made. If the question is, do two consenting women have a right to make that decision, then the conversation ends with a "hell, yes!" and we can all watch Real Housewives of New York in peace. But if it's "what do you think about that decision?" then we get into the murky areas that make some people less comfortable than others and lead to a lot of hand wringing, pearl clutching and whatever other cliches are applicable.

As I've said before, I didn't read the original post--but if the emails that I've gotten in response to my comments on this blog are accurate (that there were comments on that blog about what kind of mother the original blogger was) then that's not cool, either.

Yes, we stand by our words. But we got to get better at the whole disagreeing thing.

7:34 PM  
Blogger N.Vasillis said...

We need more trust like this in the world. You're awesome!

7:37 PM  
Blogger Kim/2 Kids said...

Bravo! As women we need to be more understanding and less judgmental of each other. Of course, more tenderness and gentleness about our differences would be world changing. My boobs ached reading this story and my little one is 10 years old.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a discussion about this with one of my good friends a few weeks ago. Her daughter was eyeing my daughter as she nursed and realized that I had two breasts. So she jumped at my other breast. I just laughed but her mother was a little uncomfortable with the situation. While I am not sure I would have actually nursed her daughter in front of her, if her daughter was in my care and hungry and her mother wouldn't be back for a while I would have nursed her.

7:53 PM  
Blogger ms. changes pants while driving said...

BEAUTIFUL. wonderful. empowering. encouraging.

7:55 PM  
Blogger lorrielink said...

LMAO mommymae!

7:56 PM  
Blogger Momily said...

Your memo is great addition to the post especially after all this huge amount of comments and dissenting views. I have disagreed with you in comments before (why is it always about breastfeeding??!!) and expressed opinions different from the so-called "mob" and you have always been kind, gracious and fair. some of your followers are less than kind, gracious and fair, but you are not responsible for that other than deleting highly offensive, rude or mean comments. I agree with what (I think?) you are saying - different opinions are fine, disagreement is fine, debate and arguement are fine, but being a mean jerk is not fine.

Such are the joys of personal stuff in a public forum, I suppose.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

Hmm - did I just leave a comment on a Canadian blogger's blog saying I was interested in the position re the routine health screening of pregnant women in the States?! :-) Sorry - late night slip of the pen - my Canadian friends and family would be ashamed of me though!

Re Suburban Turmoil's comment - yes we all take risks in our day to day lives (often without thinking about them at all). However, our personal experiences can shape our emotional response to individual riska. My perosnal experiencs mean I am very cautious about the possibility of the (unintended) transmission of infection (however small that risk is in practice). Consequently, if I had been in Laura's sitution, I would have offered a breast pump if I had one, not my child.

That said, I am also nervous of aeroplanes, private nurseries in the UK, and many other scenarios which ST didn't mention (! :-)) which I have had no bad experiences of personally. I think this illustrates nothing more startling than the fact that I am probably a bit neurotic (:-)) or to be slightly less self deprecating about it and to make a general point - different people have different perceptions of how risky the world is. That's all.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Meritt said...

I guess I'm so far out of the loop I'm still trying to figure out what the goldfish crackers site has to do with anything... LOL.

PS: Being out of the loop really isn't all that bad. I hate drama. Really. Hate. It.

8:06 PM  
Blogger TopHat said...

If I were in your position, I would have totally jumped on the opportunity to relieve engorgement. Sometimes warm showers aren't enough, sometimes it's really hard to hand express, and even pumps aren't as efficient as a baby. As someone who's dealt with multiple cases of mastitis, I would do anything to prevent it. Mastitis can be quite ugly and in extreme cases require surgery. When I read some of these comments that say, "Since the baby wasn't in danger of starvation, I don't think it was a good idea," I wonder if they know how dangerous mastitis can be for a mom.

8:17 PM  
Blogger ms. changes pants while driving said...

ps-- *snicker* *giggle* *snort* at

No one ever stares lasciviously or otherwise at my muffin top or that hunk of fat at the back of my armpit. Or at the back of my knee.

and jenny's chicken vagina eggs. can that woman ever NOT mention vagina on the internet? :D

8:32 PM  
OpenID pluckymama said...

You rock. Your boobs rock, that lady who let your nurse her daughter rocks. I love it all. Way to bring the aspect of community back to motherhood. Oodles of respect.

9:01 PM  
Blogger lorrielink said...

but not everyone here is even commenting on the "drama with the other blogger"
a good half of these comments are simply " you go girl" "what you did was great and totally ok" or "dang i know what you mean" or even the really cool ones are like "dude thats kinda weird and dont know if i woulda done the same but you do what you have to girl!"

all of which strike me as simply sharing support with stangers and friends. how is HBM perpetuating anything??

i find it confusing when people say " you twittered it so it was up for grabs to bash" and then say "you should mind your own business cause she can blog her "opinion" if she likes" how can you not see the contradiction in that?

HBM im so glad you got such good BFF's. they make a real difference. a real BFF will hide you in their basement if you rob a bank. and thats what you got here.

oh, and i totally would have done the same. and vice versa. only my kids such a mammas boy i think he'd take issue with it.;)

9:09 PM  
Anonymous feefifoto said...

Why can't people just mind their own business?

9:13 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

Good Lord! Thank God that when I was a nursing mother, I was a hippie. I've nursed other babies and other women have nursed my babies. It's just something we did for each other as needed.
What is wrong with people these days?

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Tina C. said...

lucky you; i have always wanted to do this but was too shy to ask.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Torrie said...

I would have done the same thing if I had been in your position, and Laura is awesome for helping you out.
I'm really sick of people trying to turn breastfeeding into something disgusting.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

You're awesome. You were feeding a baby, which is a beautiful thing. Don't let anyone else make you feel bad about it.

9:45 PM  
Blogger V said...

I think what you did was a great thing. It helped both of you out and made you both feel much better.

Also one of the previous commenter mentioned something about rather having their child have another woman's breast milk rather than formula and I agree! I would much rather that than formula!

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

This was a beautiful story and I'm sorry someone else had to put her own negative emotions onto it. You did nothing wrong! Hold your head up high!

10:04 PM  
Blogger SciFi Dad said...

You did a remarkable thing, Catherine. As a man, I will never have to make that decision, and even if I wasn't a man, I don't know if I could have done what you did (although if the pain was as bad as I think it could be...)

OK. Enough about me being a lactating woman.

Not that you need to be told this, but don't listen to the trolls. In the words of Joyce, "Don't let the bastards grind you down."

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Knowing the pain that engorged boobs feel like, I have sympathy for you and I totally get why you did what you did.

Why do people judge others for what they do in such a negative way? GEEZ!

Multi-Tasking Mommy
http://circleoflifeblog.blogspot.com

10:25 PM  
Anonymous katef - www.picklebums.com said...

I read about this on twitter from the OP... and strangely found your blog at the same time, loved it and subbed.. not knowing the two were related!

I am not sure that I would do the same thing (though I've just finished expressing milk for a friend who is about to go into hospital which is not much different) but you know.. they are not my boobs, and not my baby so really it's not my business.

But since I feel the need to insert my uncalled for opinion anyway - if everyone is happy, you the baby the other mum... then yay for boobs and babies and mums!

10:30 PM  
Anonymous alice said...

Lordy, there are a lot of comments. Most of which I haven't read, except The Bloggess because she is all kinds of awesome and funny to boot. Love her. Point aptly noted.

I guess the only part I take exception to, even though slight, is that you sort of imply that nursing isn't a bonding experience. Certainly, it may not be a bonding experience for you, but for some of us, it was very much a bonding experience. Not surprising since nursing promotes a release of the "mothering hormone" prolactin. And this is reinforced each time you nurse a child. It is one of the many reasons why many adoptive parents attempt to nurse.

I have no problem with wet nursing. I could do it, but it wouldn't be the same as giving another child a bottle. For me, nursing is a bonding moment with my child. I'm not sure what it would mean if I nursed another child, but I suspect it'd be more than nourishment. I suspect I'd feel bonded, however slight and fleeting, to that child in a way that I wouldn't to another child. I also think that I'd probably feel slightly like I was cheating on my own child.

It would still be totally worth it and a selfless act of love for another child.

But that's just my opinion. Your results may differ.

10:33 PM  
Blogger Avitable said...

I'm a fan of boobs in general. Except the boob who posted the obnoxious judgmental post.

10:36 PM  
Blogger juliannabelle said...

I think what you did, and what your new friend allowed you to do for her baby, is a good thing.
I donated extra breastmilk after having my first child. There was a local lady whom had adopted a baby with horrid allergies and could only tolerate human breastmilk. Like you did, I started to go into reassurance mode- listing no major medical problems, no illicit substances, only a modicum of caffeine, etc. She stopped me and said if I felt it was good enough for my own baby it was good enough for hers. Interestingly (to me, anyways), she is one of the local neonatologists.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Alice - I said that I *do* bond with my son while nursing, but that the bonding maybe had less to do with the nipple in his mouth than with me holding and loving him and cherishing that moment of peace. Just as any mother with a bottle-fed baby would bond. But yes, there's no denying the specialness. I just wanted to express that the specialness went beyond the nursing, and that nursing another child (although imtimate) would not be - and was not - the same thing.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

screw the stupid people. i would of PAID to have someone i trusted to help nurse my oldest dd when i first started. Ugh some people are so immature... Not you. I would freaking applaud but i am typing.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

I find this absolutely fascinating: the post, the subject, the comments.

What I don't find so fascinating, is the idea that because HBM is a "popular" blogger that her opinions, feelings and friends feelings don't count. Yes she puts herself out there, but hey, we all do that. But HBM is still a person. Catherine. A woman, a wife, a mother, a friend.

This is something that has always bothered me. Just because someone is a "popular" blogger, their friends sticking up for them is suddenly a mob. If someone was being rude to me in real life, my friends would have my back. They would probably say some not so nice things about whomever was being rude to me. When I've gotten asshole comments on my blog, my friends have my back. I just don't see that it's any different, because no one knows who I am.

Catherine has been doing this a long time, she has lots of friends. It doesn't make them a mob to stick up for her. It makes them good friends.

10:55 PM  
Blogger lorrielink said...

yes, there is an unequaled intimacy in nursing your child. until they start teething.... then some of the wonder of it all starts to fade just a little.

and when a toddler only wants 'drive by nursing'

oh, and when their sick and their nose is stuffed up too much to nurse and their so hungry.

breastfeeding is so much beauty, so completely wholesome and nurtering to both baby and mom, but its also painful, frustrating, fearsome,messy, and a dam pain in the ass sometimes.
its just feeding your baby, boobs are boobs BECAUSE they are designed to make milk for babies. period. thats the whole reason for all the soft warm squishy fun of boobs in the first place. they just also happen to be fun at other times as well.....now whos really complaining about that?
unfortunately its mostly woman with sad hang-ups with sex that think boobs were special ordered just for sex.
i say there is no end to the multi-tasking ability of boobs.

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Sherry said...

At this point you have so many comments I almost feel silly speaking up at all, but for what it's worth, I don't see the huge deal. You were both two adults who agreed to having you nurse her baby. It's not like you were slinking around, trying to sneak your nipple into unsuspecting babies' mouths, you know?

Would I do it, where I in your position or Laura's? I don't know. I want to say yes, but maybe I wouldn't feel comfortable when the time came. On the other hand, I certainly can't say that I wouldn't because maybe it would feel right to me.

I don't know, but I do know there was nothing dirty or disgusting about it, and to turn it into something crude when it wasn't is downright disturbing.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Velma said...

(I couldn't stay away. This is way better than reality tv, IMHO.)

After reading almost all the comments thus far, one thing becomes glaringly obvious: in most civilized societies there are guidelines for how you should treat other people, and one of the most positive human ideals is the adherence to the Golden Rule.

I've been reading this blog for years now, and HBM is extremely consistent in arguing for the right to say whatever you believe, in a respectful way, and frankly, that is a rule I can get behind.

(As another sidenote, I didn't read the original offensive post before the author yanked it, but I did cruise through the archives on the site. In my opinion, when a blogger makes many negative comments about other members of the human race under the guise of milking a situation for humor or "telling it like it is," I am turned way off by their attitude.)

(Oh, and BTW - this is not an "attack" on the other blogger, simply a statement... you guessed it! Of opinion! Which I am free to do in a respectful way and not get flamed!)

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Moxie said...

Breast milk is poison??? Who knew. Everyone call CPS on all those evil nursing mothers!

If someone wants to post a story about the possible problems of allowing another woman to breastfeed your child, go right ahead. If you're a concerned citizen and that's your cause, go right ahead. But there is a line of appropriate and inappropriate. Communicating via computers doesn't make us robots. Words have weight.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Carrien said...

Just wanted to say...

I have breastfed another woman's child before. On three separate occasions, two when I was watching their child and the baby was hungry.

I also donate breastmilk to the International Breast Milk Project to send to AIDS babies in Africa.

My mother in law has offered a breast to suckle for all 3 of my children when they were tiny and in her care. With my 3rd it was 4 hours after she was born and I was in an emergency D & C because the placenta had not yet delivered. She wrapped her in my sweater so she would have my scent and gave her a breast to suckle at until I could do it myself. It was exactly the way it should have been in my opinion, it was an act of love.

Needless to say, I don't think there is anything wrong with what you did.

I met a woman once, she was very old, her parents were living in China just before the revolution. She was an infant. Her parents were killed by the army, and she was smuggled out of the country by the Chinese church, passed from one nursing mother to another until she reached the border. Those women kept her alive by giving her their breast milk.

It's a sad statement on how women view their own bodies today that one woman would attack another for breastfeeding another's child.

11:46 PM  
Blogger CheshireKate said...

I couldn't have done this from either side, I had no breast milk for my own baby as badly as I wanted to and I tried believe me, 3 lactation specialists later it finally got to be TOO MUCH and too emotional and I just fed her formula and got back to the business of enjoying my baby which as (bless her) lactation specialist number three pointed out was the point. I had confessed I dreaded her waking up because of all the rigmarole starting and she gave me permission to move on. Anyhow it would have hurt too much for me to have another woman nursing my child when I couldn't, BUT bravo to you. This was a private moment between two people and it wasn't coerced or fraught with the economic or class issues that wet nursing sometimes carries. I say the level of angst that some of the non participatory moms put into this is crazed...couldn't they devote the time to finding foster homes for unwanted kids or ending hunger or something?

11:54 PM  
Anonymous HamiltonDoula said...

Six weeks after the birth of my first son, my husband and I went drove to T.O. to see Neil Young. Two hours out, my breasts were starting to fill up. I attempted to express into a paper towel while I sat on a toilet.

After the concert I was rock hard, in pain with hot, stretched breasts that were starting to leak. I again attempting to hand express, without actually knowing what I was doing, and ended up expressing a tiny bit of bloody milk. What a night!

I can only imagine how freaking sore you were after a day away. Sore, possible feverish feeling from the heat of the engorged breast, and definitely at a high risk of mastitis, blocked ducts and impairing your supply.

As a doula, I must offer scientific information so that you may make your own decision which is the basis of empowerment and making informed choices. You've done that beautifully, you and Laura weighing the possible risks and ruling out others, finally deciding for yourselves what you will do.
Hamilton Doula
aka
The Clever Mom
www.theclevermom.com

12:05 AM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

Mary G -

I wrote a humorous piece about nudity on Wendi Aarons blog. Please do not lump me in with the folks who are judging Her Bad Mother. I think breast feeding is a beautiful natural amazing gift and everyone has a right to make their own decisions.

12:07 AM  
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