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 The Mother said...

If the post I commented on was the "original" post, then I'm one of the original commentators.

I said NO. And I will continue to say NO. Loudly.

(Kateypie35, you are a brave woman)

I'm not implying that anyone has any awful, horrible diseases. But never, ever would I allow a woman who was not properly screened to nurse my baby.

I'm sure that both of you are very nice people, and that neither of you has any transmissible viruses. But we don't know that, for sure.

Many, many viruses that can be dangerous lurk for some time before anyone knows they are there.

I nursed all four of my children, on and off for nearly eleven years. I'm a huge advocate. My mother nursed us, AND donated milk for preemies. But there was a screening process.

Even in the days when women routinely hired wet nurses, they were extensively screened (not for viruses, since they didn't have that knowledge, but for character and lifestyle).

Again. Nothing personal. I don't know you. You are probably an amazing person who lives in quarantine and couldn't possibly have, say Epstein Barr virus (80% of the population has been exposed).

But I would never let another woman nurse my child. And I don't recommend it to anyone.

BTW, most pharmacies in most major cities carry the little hand pumps. Not as good as the big electric ones, but I've used them on vacation, quite effectively.

12:23 AM  
Blogger Petit Elefant said...

There's such weirdness in our culture about breasts. They're ok for strippers, but nasty for babies? What? I had to hide the fact that I nursed my babies past 9 months because of the comments I got from other moms. People have issues with breasts. I'm so sorry. I think in many many cultures this never would have even gotten a sideways glance. sigh.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Me said...

sorry, can't spend the time to read through all the comments (just sped-read 200 or so), but my first thought on the whole matter (maybe addressed elsewhere) is, was Laura not nursing herself? Did she then not get engorged herself? I *know*, totally off the subject, what can I say?!

1:11 AM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

Some people have way too much time on their hands and apparently they have to go around policing what everyone else does. I have had engorged boobs before and man it is very painful! I am glad that someone was able to be open minded enough to offer you relief for your pain.

1:14 AM  
Anonymous mari'smama said...

I pump, and have exclusively pumped for my ten month old since birth because she was born with a cleft palate and we are not able to nurse, despite many efforts.

Over these ten months I have donated straight from my freezer at least 1,800 oz. of milk to a mom with an adopted baby whose birth mom was drug abusing up to the birth of her child. This adopted mom has spent over a year picking up milk from donors like me to make sure her baby has the best start in life. She never asked me to get tested. She met me and my baby and took my word on being healthy and "clean."

Now we are in the same playgroup, both babies are thriving, I am still pumping, and this experience has eased some of my sadness at not being able to breastfeed. People milkshare all the time. It's not new and you did nothing wrong.

1:52 AM  
Anonymous Veronica said...

Wow, I feel a bit odd commenting after everyone else!

In your situation? I would have done what you did. In Laura's situation, I would have offered what she offered.

I'm sorry that someone thought that they had the right to react the way they did.

3:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After my daughter went into heart failure and was diagnosed and treated for her problem, the hospital where she was seen came by once a week to pick up my extra frozen breast milk for the neonatal unit. No one ever seemed horrified or made me feel ashamed about that. So, as long as another babies mouth didn't actually touch my horrid nipple it was a good and virtuous thing to share breast milk? Balderdash!
Gillian

3:38 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

I admit that my first reaction was that I might think this was weird, or that it would make me uncomfortable. However, after reading your story and really thinking about it, it seems like it was a perfect solution for everyone!

I agree - breastmilk is breastmilk. Her baby got to eat, and you got to not be in terrible pain! I wasn't able to breastfeed my baby, but if someone else had offered to feed him because I got stuck outside my home without enough formula or something, I totally would go with that.

I'm sorry that you had to deal with people being so judgy. I don't know why people feel the need to attack each other like that - what difference does it make to that other woman what you and that other mother decided to do? None. So why waste her energy attacking and being negative? I'll never understand that.

Kudos to you for doing it in the first place, and for sharing your story with all of us!

4:04 AM  
Blogger illahee said...

i have never nursed another baby, but a friend nursed my son. i had gone to the hospital (on a holiday. oh the joys of emergency clinics on a holiday) with my daughter. although i had fed him just before i left, we were gone long enough for him to wake up hungry (he was about six months old) and after trying to entertain him, then give him baby snacks, my friend nursed him.

he fell asleep.

when i got back from the hospital and they told me, i was totally fine with it. happy, in fact, because he was happy and taken care of while i was away on an emergency.

i kind of wish i could have nursed someone's baby. it's not 'gross' or 'dangerous', not in the situation you described. *sish*

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor breasts. Their dual purpose puts them in us in such a quandary! Are they sexy or are they purposeful for feeding? Or both? Is that the root of all this?

Let's split it into the two main ways breasts are viewed for (some attempt at) clarity in what I am trying to say.

If they are for feeding, they are serviceable, natural. and healthful. (Not everyone will breastfeed, mind you and that is fine, but it is generally and universally acknowledged as nutritious, perfect food for infants).

If we put breast milk (whether expressed or right from the source) in the "feeding camp" it is easier to be accepting of breasts' use, and usefulness.

To take this further, could we allow that sharing breast milk is palatable in certain conditions then? (Many examples have been given in the comments, like being stuck in an elevator). Or sharing breast milk is really okay under any conditions as it is a food, and thus it is a akin to sharing food, formula, spoons, ice creams, whatever. Maybe. But let's go to the next viewpoint of breasts in the 'sexy camp'.

If they are sexy, they are intimate, for you and your partner (only), or only in pleasurable and sexual acts. You can't mix any of that mentality with using one's breasts for feeding a) babies, b) older (young) children ("ugh, gross! they are actually talking!"), or sharing one's breasts with other people's infants ("ooh, weirdo!", or "yeah maybe ok, but not for me").

Trying to reconcile their dual use IS difficult. How can they be there for two such different and two such IMPORTANT things?! It is hard to wrap one's head around.

And maybe, just maybe, because we can't reconcile it, it seems safer to argue that we wouldn't do it because one is not comfortable with the security of the milk, or that one might pass on a disease. (Cleanliness, or protecting one's babies from disease -- HOWEVER UNLIKELY ---is a safe ground, you see. Easier than saying that it feels too close to sexual intimacy for one's own comfort). (Please note: this particular argument (disease in milk) is different from worrying about minor milk contamination (drug, alcohol, (spicy Indian or whatever!) in the milk) which is fine to argue, and of course, valid but not here in my current argument).

It does and can get weird, or not -- depending on your opinion of breasts as sexy or feeders or both, but at different times.

A lot of this thinking for me stemmed from hearing some commenters saying (and I paraphrase): it's okay I suppose, EXCEPT I would be mostly worried that you can get/give diseases. Really? That seems like a big jump to me. What I would gently ask if if really, and I mean REALLY, it is a subconscious thing that it is not very cool to share one's boobs because of the sexy part thing. And that talking about the risk of disease is a safe way of sharing that disdain or discomfort.

Thoughts?

7:25 AM  
Blogger Stacy said...

I would have done the same thing, even if I had not been in pain rom engorged boobies. If the other chid jsut needed to be fed and for whatever reason her mother could not fed her. Having breast milk and being able to feed your own child or someone elses is a very blessed thing!

8:06 AM  
Anonymous Jennyh said...

My great grandmother nursed a neighbor's baby during the depression because the mother did not have any milk, that child could have died, it was the depression, it was not like there was money for formula or goat milk! Did they even have formula then? People should mind their own business, if you were beating a kid in public, ok, definetly someone should step in, but you feeding them is no one's business!

8:53 AM  
Blogger zchamu said...

I was thinking a bit about this situation this morning, and the part of this that perhaps displays the worst judgment of all is that the other blogger decided to make *this* her key takeaway from an event which she was corporately sponsored to attend. Now, all anyone's going to identify this fishy event with is boobgate. Not the kind of attention they wanted, I'm sure.

9:15 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

The Mother - I %100 support you in your opinion (and I supported KateyPie in having hers - I just engaged her on it). YOU would not do this. I understand that. I do not judge you for that. I do not think that you are closed-minded or uptight or fussy. Two weeks ago, I might have said that I wouldn't nurse another woman's child. I wouldn't have cited fear of disease - it's my opinion, based on discussion with my doctor (and supported by the nurses and doulas who have weighed in here) that the risk, if any, is negligible, and certainly much lower than risk of contaminants in formula or bacteria that might be encountered in daily life - but I might have said, simply, no, probably not. So I get, totally, that other people feel differently about this.

You expressed your opinion respectfully, and I respect that. Had the original post been respectful (that is, not willfully misrepresented the story, as she admitted to doing, and not fanned the flames of disgust), then it wouldn't have bothered me. As I keep saying here - and as my track record in this space proves - I'm really open to disagreement. I just ask that it be reasoned and civil. As your disagreement was ;)

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Tamara said...

Brava, Mama!

I don't know you, but I so wish I did! May ample measures of love and blessings shower down on you and on Laura for speaking the truth about our bodies, our experiences, and the ridiculousness of those who would make us ashamed of what is an innately natural and loving act.

10:12 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous 7:25 - I totally agree. While I think that some women might have very real issues/concerns about virus transmission (some commenters here have explained things to that effect), I think that in general the argument about such risk is a smoke screen for more awkward issues - like discomfort around ideas of breasts as objects - yeah, objects - of sexuality and intimacy. From what I've been told by medical professionals, there's no general risk in milksharing that is any greater than other, more mundane activities (toy sharing in public playspaces, unwashed hands, bad formula, etc, etc.) I think that much - NOT ALL - of the fear around disease is that there's an association of breasts (and anything involving bodily fluids) with sex and a general tendency to ick.

Again, I'm not judging anyone who is skeeved by the idea. I can understand it. I just wish that we were all more open to changing our attitudes and society's attitudes to these things - more inclined to consider the possibility that something like this isn't gross (despite what one's visceral reaction is) and to understand that issuing moral judgments based on such visceral reactions just hurts all of us.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Tamara said...

Adding that physiologically, a nursing mother has undergone nearly every possible medical screening already, between the pregnancy and birth of her child.
This fear-mongering about illness and disease assumes that we know nothing of our own medical histories and even less about how physiology works. If you wouldn't do it, say so. But don't attack another for your own knee-jerk reactions and faulty assumptions.

10:19 AM  
Blogger zchamu said...

Tamara - "This fear-mongering about illness and disease assumes that we know nothing of our own medical histories and even less about how physiology works. If you wouldn't do it, say so. But don't attack another for your own knee-jerk reactions and faulty assumptions."

Nail. Head. Etc.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Katie Kat said...

I was really looking forward to this post after reading the Twitter comments. I honestly wasn't sure WHAT I felt about the situation because I had never heard both sides of the story. I remember hearing about Salma Hayek doing the same thing, and found myself really sort of unsure about how I felt. Now, having read your story, I feel enlightened.

It's not that I see this as some sort of "magical" "Goddess-like" thing, but then again, I don't see it as disgusting. Your beautifully written feelings about it honestly made me say "Well, why not?" You were being responsible and weren't just attaching a random kid to your breast. You were helping yourself and the baby. You were pushing the envelope to be sure, and that's why I think people reacted the way they did.

I'm not sure women really DO know how they feel about this. I think it's the "oogy" factor of not really being AGAINST it, but not being sure you'd do it yourself. Maybe similar to how some people feel that being gay is fine, but seeing a gay couple kissing, etc. makes them uncomfortable and unsure. I don't know.

What I do know is what you did is really not much different than women who are surrogates. They use their entire body to nurture, grow and give birth to a baby for another person. Breastfeeding is more public than that, but not so dissimilar.

I applaud your bravery in doing this and in sharing it so that other people can examine and discuss it (hopefully in a way that is MATURE and enlightening) so that they can come up with their own conclusions. BRAVO.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Marinka said...

Tamara--why is it faulty assumptions to express concern that another woman may have breast milk, that for whatever reason, and totally unrelated to her moral character and dignity as a human being, would not be ok for your baby?

HBM wrote that the issue is about trust--
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.

If all nursing mothers were "safe", however it is that we define that word in terms of our children, would there be a need for trust, even?

10:45 AM  
Blogger April said...

don't know if you saw when cjane blogged about co-op nursing... i love the way she puts is '...which is something we do in our family, we are tight like that'

it's good to be tight like that. and trusting. :-)

http://blog.cjanerun.com/2008/10/heavenly-fire.html

10:51 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

More power to you! Having suffered the horror that is mastitis 3 times with my current baby and twice with babies one and two I can understand the need to get that milk flowing. Expressing just doesn't compare to the power of a baby nursing. Well done to you. Never heard of "Fishful Thinking" until now...had to grit my teeth just to scroll through it...

10:52 AM  
Blogger kateypie35 said...

This is off topic, but I want to thank everyone who has e-mailed me, messaged me, called me brave, etc. I appreciate it very much.

I really wish all the anonymous posters would join me, show your face... as Mom101 said...own your words. If we can ALL learn how to disagree respectfully and with class and grace - we can have such interesting and dynamic debates! These brouhahas would never happen!

When people (on BOTH sides) turned mean and caustic - that's when it feels like one giant schoolyard - "neener neener, she started it!". And thats when impressions of "posse's and gang mentality" start to spread. (wrong or right, the impression really is there). I think we ALL (on BOTH sides) need to try to take the high road, even if its hard, even if someone else hurt us first, even if you feel defensive.

Hopefully the blog owner that inadvertently began this has learned to be more thoughtful and responsible for her content, but she isn't the only one who needs to learn from this. I learned too - I have really been thinking about it a lot. Anyone else?

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never comment on anything, but I had to say I think that's beautiful; I think both you and Laura sound like warm, thoughtful women. The world got a little friendlier when you two found a simple solution to a situation.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Mamajama said...

I'm really surprised that this has sparked such a controversy. It seems like no big woop to me. It was your decision and Laura's decision. I'm always glad to hear more moms talking about breastfeeding, because like you I think that society has a major issue with treating breasts only as sexual objects.

I wouldn't let anyone who was on any meds. Nurse my daughter...I'm anal like that...and didn't even take my pain meds for a week after my c-section, but like I said it's a personal choice. I have no problem letting mothers make their own choices. No one else is as good at deciding what is best for our families.

I'm pregnant and still nursing. Most of my friends wouldn't make that choice, but I know what's best for us (period). No extra discussion necessary.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Joyce said...

I feel silly being comment 421... because, really, what else is there to say?! But I guess I am just adding to those that are amazed at how one little, personal act can spur such criticism, anger and judgment. Whoa!
The most popular (and well-written) bloggers are those who can report their experiences and stories without a need to insult others. Every time I leave the house I am guilty of casting judgments on others and making my own opinions based on stereotypes, preconceived notions... and well, not fact! I hate that this is true, but we all do it. The point is, when you write a blog you must consider who you are blogging about and whether you are reporting something presented in your own opinion to spur an honest discussion, or something that is your judgment disguised as a fact. This is when things become slanderous and most celebrities do fight back (or sue) when a newspaper or some other public means of communication contorts the facts to bring them down. Especially in this case, where you are a well-known, celebrity blogger, this person who wrote those things should have known what she was doing. You have every right to fight back and present your case.
I don't understand the comments that say you are now fighting back in the same way as this woman and creating some kind of mob mentality against her. She printed untrue things and you are now stating what did happen and that you are hurt. That's being assertive and is a healthy response. It isn't your fault what the commentators do with that. For the most part, the comments have been compassionate and kind.
You have retorted in an amazing way, without condemning the other writer, but also you did what every other person out there would do--stand up for themselves, regardless of what the situation is.
This isn't even about boobs anymore, it's just about being a public persona who has been slandered and retorting to it.
I'm sorry you were hurt and I hope lots of lessons were learned.

P.S. I'm also so grateful for people like you and Laura. Imagine what this world would be like if we all treated everyone else's children with the amount of care and compassion that we treat our own? Thank you for this.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but I guess I'm in the minority. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That's all the other poster did and without mentioning names. You're telling me these 1000's of tweeters and blog posters knew who you were before your so called "friend" outed you? I think you need to get over yourself. It was a blog post only. And your "friend"? What was the reasoning behind that? I also think you and "Laura" should have been more discreet. And Laura took a very big chance by having a total stranger breastfeed her baby. She knew nothing about you. And that doesn't mean I'm saying anything bad about you, but hey. how would she know? This is her child! I would never put my baby in possible jeopardy like that. If you were in pain, you could have had the concierge buy a pump. And for a supposedly organized mother, how could you forget something so crucial? All I can say is ewww!! My opinion only. Just as you voiced yours in your post. And the same as the other blogger. The difference? she didn't start a hate campaign.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Kendra said...

Catherine, I would have done the same as you did in that situation. I would have been insanely relieved and insanely honored to do it.

Shame on Goldfish crackers lady.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I have very mixed feelings, for myself, about this. On the one hand, knowing that it's natural, women have wet nursed, etc. since time immemorial, I feel like I should say, "Woohoo!" On the other, my reaction seems rooted in (what seems like) the cultural taboo of only permitting a woman to nurse their own child and the mixed messages - e.g., breast feeding is best and if you don't you're a bad mother; but don't do it in public or anywhere you might offend someone's delicate sensibilities, etc. - that society sends.

That said, I remember how I longed to nurse my nieces (regardless of whether I was nursing at the time) that came from some primal place inside that wanted to comfort and feed them as well as to have that flush of pride that comes from knowing that you can sustain life from just your boobs!

So, for all that, clearly we (society) need to work on the issues surrounding breastfeeding so that women, doing what we are capable of, are not shamed or denigrated for it, especially by other women.

11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blogging is for voicing your own opinion, yes? You do it, why not leave others alone to do it, too.

Oh, and your "Let's be kind" idea - hello pot, my name is kettle.

11:40 AM  
Blogger zchamu said...

@anonymous 11:10: You said "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That's all the other poster did and without mentioning names."

Why does it matter that she didn't name names? She knew who she was talking about, as did the person she was talking about. Just because she didn't "out" her to the world doesn't make what she said, or what others said, any less hurtful. In fact, hiding behind "naming no names" is pretty cowardly since it allows her to not to have to own her words.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anons from this morning:

There has been no hate campaign. I have never named this blogger, or linked to her, or told anybody where to find her. NO ONE. That my readers found it and that friends defended me - well, I'm grateful to be defended by such good people. (No, she didn't name me either - but the post was clearly about me - enough that dozens of people identified it and told me about it - and it was, as I've said before and say again below, misrepresentative.)

Defense against what? NOT contrary opinion. Everyone is welcome to disagree, as I've said a gajillion times. What they're not free to do without expecting response: posting misleading information/misrepresenting a story about another individual. The other blogger admitted to misrepresenting what she said about me. They are also not free to defame, which is what she did when she accused me on Twitter (apropos of nothing at all) of irresponsible drinking while nursing.

So.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Joyce said...

@Anonymous 11:10: Catherine has repeated at numerous times, and I agree, that sharing your opinion, be it contrary or not, is welcome. I'm not trying to attack you, but the comment "Get over yourself" and "All I can say is ewww!!" lowers the tone and uses high school language to express that you found this situation distasteful, without really explaining why. I am also curious as to why Laura and Catherine should have been more discreet? They didn't feel they were doing anything wrong. It would be interesting to explore your feelings behind these statements and what has made you against what happened without using such a critical tone. I also don't think Catherine needs to feel like she's done something wrong because she stood up for herself. Most people would do the same if put in a situation where someone else wrote about something they did in a bad light. She was hurt and responded in a very adult way. I don't see the problem?

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a difficult comment for me to write and I'm saddened that I have to write it anonymously. I'm relatively new to the blog world, but from what I see, the mentality of a number of commenters here would leave me no other choice. However, I hope that doesn't take away from my message. Because Catherine, I really do like you. I think you're a fabulous writer and I'd be lucky to have a tenth of your talent. And honestly, this isn't about whether I agree or disagree with you on this cross-nursing issue or what I think of the other blogger (never heard of her before, and didn't see her post). It's not my place (or anyone's, for that matter) to judge her, you, or Laura.

This is about the bigger issue of the fallout here, and what keeps happening throughout the small blog world. (And it really is small, as we all saw here, despite the protesting from both sides that no one ID'ed anyone by name.) The fact that when people who aren't in the "in" crowd make a less-than-positive assessment of a member of the "A-Team" or simply dare to disagree, they very ofen get painted as "mean" or "trolls," oftentimes by the most notoriously mean members of the group of bigtime bloggers. (I'm not saying that REAL jerks don't exist, but it's funny how all dissenters seem to get lumped together as haters, while the A-Listers with harsh personalities are given a free pass for what they call "snark.") You have power, Catherine, and I'm sure you're aware of it. When you cry "foul!" they will all come running. Your close blog buddies and all the followers who want to be included.

What I truly don't get here is how you could be surprised that nursing another woman's baby in public and then apparently repeatedly Twittering about it wouldn't touch off a firestorm. Even your most ardent supporters here have unwittingly acknowledged that possibility by saying that America is "puritanical" and that people are "so closed minded." It would be GREAT if the world was such that no one judged you for doing what you did. But we don't live in that world. So again, why wonder aloud at the few negative reactions to it?

For the record, I know all too well the pain of severe engorgement, and the delicate balance that goes into what we choose to share on our sites. You tend to share more than I do, and THAT'S OKAY, as it's your decision. But again, when we put all of it out there, especially someone as popular as you, odds are good that someone, SOMEWHERE isn't cool with something you say/do. That's the way the blog world IS, and it's not necessarily an awful thing. It keeps us--ALL of us-- in check.

Which leads me to my last point. (I know, this is long. Sorry.) You got a ton of positive comments here. Why focus on the small number of negative ones? So man people (including me) love your writing. So many people support you on this. That's abundantly evident. So why isn't that enough for you? Or your followers? (I know the second question isn't really for you, but maybe one of them can answer...I really am curious.) The fact that people were asking for a link I the other blogger's site so they could yell at her, the fact that people are seething over this, the fact that some of your supporters are saying anyone who doesn't like what you did is anti-breastfeeding...this is madness. From what I gather, the other blogger's post was misleading. But at the end of the day (again, this is from what I gather, so please let me know if I'm wrong), she was, after all, stating her opinion on what she saw. And for the life of me, really and truly, I don't understand how that "shamed" you. Must we all see eye-to-eye on this issue?

I think--and I say this respectfully and genuinely, NOT nastily AT ALL--you might want to revisit some incredibly apt and eloquent words you yourself wrote only a few months ago:

"Criticism is almost always uncomfortable. Criticism, indeed, kinda sucks most of the time. Even when it turns out to be really helpful and promoting of growth yadda yadda blah, it's just not the funnest thing, you know? And of course, criticism that comes in plainspoken - or snarky - terms is the least funnest thing of all. But here's the thing: if we condemn anyone who utters criticism or makes critical observation - again...[the] crime here was...making an (albeit stinging) critical observation - we silence ourselves, to our detriment. Criticism keeps us, and our community, self-aware and self-reflective. Yeah, it stings, but that's why Socrates referred to himself - the greatest and most uncompromising of critics - as a gadfly: because no meaningful criticism fails to sting."

I have read over this and over this, debating whether or not to hit "post," and I've tried my hardest to ensure that I've conveyed my points here with respect and courtesy. To the extent you or your readers find it objectionable, I apologize for the offense, but not for the message.

12:24 PM  
Blogger paperfairies said...

I'm commenting again because I feel the need to say that Catherine has always been open to (and in fact likes) RESPECTFUL discussions. To say otherwise is unfounded and untrue. I commented on this early on with a somewhat dissenting view, and she responded back, engaging in thoughtful, kind debate.

She is a beautiful example of an anti-mommy-war-blogger. I did not feel bullied at all.
*
Must add in response to equating wet-nursing with riding on planes and eating out: although it is true a segment of society has cultural hang-ups with boobs feeding babies, the visceral reaction (as you put it) one gets when thinking of another woman breastfeeding your child is instinctual and not to be ignored! I am positive that most mothers would think twice about it. The "I would so the exact same thing in a heartbeat!" somehow seems a bit unrealistic.

Would you have done the same thing if you were Laura?

12:25 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

When Salma Hayek nursed that African child, I was called to address how I feel about this topic in my own mind. At first, I said, "hmm... interesting." And then I read a Newsweek opinion on the matter, and my real feelings emerged.

Newsweek, in The Dignity
Index, said they "still think Salma Hayek breasfeeding a
hungry AFrican baby-on camera-during a relief tour is just, well weird" and gave her a score of 7 which corresponded to "mildly tacky" on their chart.

Here is what I wrote to the Newsweek Editor: Compassion and generosity are never "mildly tacky". I hope that more mothers have the courage to nourish children who are starving and sick, if not directly then via milk donations. I applaud Salma Hayek for bringing attention to this important issue. Breastmilk can save lives. The ignorance apparent in your dignity index is appalling.

And there it was. I admired Hayek for nursing a child that was not her own. And I WISH I had the courage to do the same ... and stand up for what I believe in the face of cultural scorn.

I applaud your courage. Or if not courage, your ability to ignore societal mores and go with your gut. Breasts are a beautiful gift and their power is SO much greater than what is assigned to them by the cover of Maxim magazine.

*BIG HUGS* I'm sorry you got hurt.

12:39 PM  
Blogger lorrielink said...

can the anonymous people at least give themselves a nick-name(s). i cant tell if its one person or many. anonymous commenters usually only comment once so im loosing track in this train.

my thoughts on sexiness and breastfeeding? if i understood your comment right, and im not sure i did. my answer would be.

there is nothing more UNSEXY than breastfeeding.
my thoughts are that you have obviously never breastfed, or been close and had open conversation with a woman who had been doing it for a while.
it would take too long to explain just how very very unsexed breastfeeding is to someone whos never experianced it. kinda like explaining childbirth to a childless woman. you just cant.
seriously if you thinks its a crossover of how it feels to have "sexiness with your boobs" than your having the wrong kind of sex.
in fact, most of us put up "out of order" signs on our boobs for a while during nursing months because our boobs feel less like "fun bags" than ever, physically and emotionally.

12:58 PM  
Blogger SAIA AND CHAGO said...

Commented here earlier, but was moved to further post a full response on our blog at http://saiaandchago.blogspot.com/2009/03/whos-boobs-your-boobs.html

1:09 PM  
Blogger Mamajama said...

I'm frustrated with the anonymous folks who are saying that Catherine should not be defending herself against the post that called her out in the first place. Anonymous 12:24, I really think that you have missed something here. Catherine to my knowledge is not trying to silence anyone for criticizing her, and in fact by bringing this discussion to her own blog is in my opinion elevating the discussion.

It's kind of a weird argument therefore to tell her to take the criticism without giving any herself when the other blogger (in many peoples' opinions) is very deserving of criticism herself. Sure some people are being snarky, but I haven't seen Catherine be snarky. Discussion is an organic process (sometimes a painful one), and that's what the blogosphere is about...and I wouldn't want to change that.

1:26 PM  
Blogger Marinka said...

OT (because I'm trying to win some kind of an award for commenting the most on this post) but whenever people respond "Anonymous 2:14", it makes me think that they're quoting the Bible. Of course I don't read the Bible, so perhaps that explains a lot.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Animal said...

I don't have breasts - well, none that are worth milking, anyway, and which will hopefully disappear with lots & lots of running - but I enjoyed your writing tremendously. I'm always amazed at this power women seem to have, a connectedness to each other that, frankly, most men seem baffled by.

I'm convinced that, one blog post at a time, you're changing the way people think. Thank you.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous 12:24 - I appreciate your comment. I do. Believe me, I ask myself ALL THE TIME (and certainly many times over the past two days) why I am (sometimes) bothered by (certain) judgments (the corollary - and why not others?) So, you've made me think. Thanks. (I think ;))

The fast answer is: I get bothered by things that either a) hit a nerve (things that I think *might* be right; I usually try to address these honestly) and b) things that I think are wholly unfair. What happened this week falls into the latter category. As I have stated at length, I don't mind that anyone has disagreed with what I did. I expected as much. Had I published the first 2/3's of the above post (as planned) without knowledge of the other post, I would have closed with a "what would you do? would you do it?" because I am sincerely interested in others' opinions on this subject. But the post in question wasn't a differing opinion - it was, as you note, a misrepresentation of what happened for the purposes of eliciting a disgusted response. And the disgusted response was alarming: terrible suggestions were made about me (not least, the suggestion by the author herself, in comments and repeated yesterday on Twitter, that I might have been drinking.) It was mean-spirited and hurtful. Should I have had thicker skin about it? Maybe. But is it surprising that I didn't? And aren't I entitled to reflect upon and express my hurt?

The fact that I'm a 'bigger blogger' - whatever that means - does not or should not - mean that I don't get to express my hurt. I didn't send anyone to that blog; indeed, I only heard about the post after tons of people had already found it and started discussing it. And as a few people have said - the fact that friends and readers defended me against borderline defamatory discussion (insofar as the description of what happened was dishonest, and admitted to be so by the author) (the Twitter accusations may have in fact crossed that border) does not, I don't think, translate into an attack by a pack. Had people been jumping on her for disagreeing with me - I would have been vocal about discouraging that. But people jumped on her for publishing a misleading story and for egging on a discussion that involved people - including her - suggesting that I might have been drunk, that I'm the type of person to bare my breasts in bars, etc.) (not even touching the AIDS thing). They defended my honor, to put it archaically. Do I not deserve that, simply because I'm popular?

Perhaps the answer is no. Perhaps I can't expect to be NOT be treated disrespectfully, simply because I put my life out there and get some attention for doing so. Perhaps I do not have the right to respond, simply because so many people would support me and that skews some cosmic discursive balance. Perhaps. But if so, I really need some help understanding why.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

paperfairies - I may need to write more about this, but as I've said to a few people, if you asked me two weeks ago whether I would nurse another woman's child, I would have said that I didn't know. I would have probably hovered in the direction of probably not, but I wouldn't have been able to explain why.

Would I have allowed another woman to nurse my son? Unequivocally, yes.

Why the two different responses? I don't know. I'm still thinking about that. Many of these comments are helping with that, some are confusing the issue.

Bottom line: I get why it's complicated.

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi lorrielink
Sorry it's me: sexy vs. feeder boobs anonymous. I didn't make my comment clear if that is what you thought. I can't comment more as -- weird timing -- my babe is calling me to be fed. But quickly, I was trying to say that our breasts serve two purposes and it is really really hard to reconcile the two sometimes. Not do they/will they feel sexy when feeding but how can they be one thing one time and another another time! (Sry, not very good response but really must go now.)
Ciao.

1:50 PM  
Blogger MJMILLS said...

well said ANON 12:24!!!!!

1:52 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Marinka - I am laughing out loud at your most recent comment. Also, I was going to respond to an earlier comment of yours that prompted a thought, but I've lost track of where that comment was AND I lost track of my thought, so. Sorry. It was probably good ;)

2:13 PM  
Blogger lorrielink said...

lol @ Marinka, i thought the same thing.


@ anonymous sexy vs. boobs. thank you, that totally does help clear that up. i probably had milk brain when i read it too.
it is totally true that the fuller your breasts get the emptier your head gets.

ok, so i would say that yes, it can be confusing - in the beginning. if this is new to you, and i would say its new if you are on your first child (which is brain function defying enough by itself) and you have never had a good nursing influence in your life before this (i didnt) and if you are still in your first year nursing that your feelings are totally normal on the confusion of "i thought they were one thing, now i feel diffently" thang.
i say its a path, its not instant, follow your hart, trust your instinks, clearly define your boundrys. yes your babe gets priority #1 on boob useage now, and you may wonder if youll ever get them back to yourself. the answer is yes, you do. in time. your time. you choose. there are still your breasts right now. you can say no, or not right now, or just a minuet with your boobs to anyone, even your babe. your boobs!
although it usually goes easier after the 6 months mark. unless your my kid.

HBM@ sorry if im hijacking, i cant say anything better about your situation than some of the brilliant peeps who already have.

2:22 PM  
Blogger Suzie said...

YOU GO GIRL!!!! There's not enough community and sharing as it is these days...and you hit the JACKPOT. Very proud of you for being open enough to say yes!!!!

2:36 PM  
Blogger Janna Bee said...

Okay, so NOW some tweets I read earlier are making sense.

My boobs ached just reading this, and I haven't nursed a child in 7 months. I completely understand that pain! It's unbearable. I can't believe someone would say something like that!

2:41 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Notice to everyone: from hereon in I will be deleting comments that ignore my addendum to the post above. (Also, any comment that seems to me to be sock-puppetry.) I'm tired of stating that this is not about disagreeing with someone else's opinion - a quick (ha!) survery of the comments to this post will demonstrate that dissent is accepted and supported (by me) - but about responding to a post that - BY THE ADMISSION OF THAT BLOGGER - misrepresented what happened and was intended to incite and that hosted a comments thread in which the author made at least one borderline defamatory comment about to me.

This post provides the only firsthand account of what happened.

If I am defensive, I am defensive about people tilting at windmills, directing their arrows at something that is not an issue for me. Repeat: there is NO ISSUE HERE about disagreeing with anyone's opinion, at least not from me. Seriously. Disagree all you want. Just stay on point with terms of discussion. And don't call me gross.

Done with that.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Mamajama said...

anon 3:01, you seem to have some major issues with breastfeeding moms altogether since you are calling us all a bunch of self proclaimed disabled people with entitlement syndromes (excuse me, but what the hell does that mean?). Bloggers put themselves and their lives out there. Sometimes the feedback is painful to them. We (the normal readers) love HBM for being honest about how she feels on issues.

I also don't appreciate being compared to the third Reich (a group that systematically tried to exterminate a race of people) for the way I choose to feed my children. I think you should tone your rhetoric down a bit.
Fascists don't like to be taunted. Mwahahahaha.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anons (who I am going to delete but GOD HELP ME I cannot help but respond):

1) It's a fine distinction between calling an act disgusting and a person disgusting. Homophobes make it all the time. I'm not interested in hosting that discussion. You want to post that topic somewhere else, fine. Not here.

2) There are dozens upon dozens of comments here that disagree civilly and which outline risks, etc, and fears concerning same. i am happy to host those. So accusations that I closing comments to anyone who disagrees with me are entirely baseless.

3) My space, my rules. You don't like it, don't like me, you are free to not play here.

All respect.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Karen said...

Catherine, I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this via your tweets and the first part of this post. Blogging drama aside (although I am sorry you were hurt), the whole story puts the idea of shared nursing out there to be thought about and discussed.

When my daughter was born @ 25 wks and I was trying so hard to pump and could only produce a few precious drops at a time, I remember commenting to a nurse in the NICU that I wished I knew another BF mom who could donate some milk to my daughter and lend me her baby to help with my supply issues. This seemed kind of natural to me, but the nurse was horrified and scolded “I know you’re upset, but I can’t imagine any woman doing something like THAT!” Note, that this was my fourth child and I really should have been beyond anyone being able to question or judge my parenting, but her comment stung and I never brought it up again. I wish with all my heart that I hadn’t been so thin-skinned and had discussed this with friends and family – I may have found someone in a position to help and saved my nursing relationship with my daughter. (No, I’m not blaming the nurse for my reaction, I own it and she was entitled to her opinion – I DO blame her for not mentioning the existence of Human Milk banks, but this was the same nurse who consistently said “I don’t know WHY you’re putting yourself through this, she’ll be just fine with formula” and that’s a whole ‘nother story)

Anyway, my rambling point here is that talking about it openly and naturally like you did might help some other Mom in a similar situation feel more comfortable bringing up the idea and perhaps finding the help she needs.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Hi. Your ass-double here, late to the partay. Someone may have already sent you this link, complete with the video:

http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1878917,00.html

Interesting article about this anyway. I had no idea this was even a "thing."

I think personally what you did was just fine.

I think some of the comments on the other site (I didn't go there, I'm just looking at what you related here) are shameful.

3:57 PM  
Blogger IDisposable said...

I can tell you that what you did was a wonderful thing, a natural thing, something every close-knit society would and should applaud.
I only disagree with one thing you wrote. It's NOT okay for someone to find what you did distasteful. It's a clear indication of the decay of selflessness and person responsibility in this society. Anyone that protests this nurturing is lacking something profound in their own soul.

I'm probably not the only man to post here, but rest assured that many of us respect, envy and fully understand the sacrifices that breat-feeding requires. I honor you and your decisions.

4:00 PM  
Blogger Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

AND - I love Animal's comment. Best one I think!

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So now because people don't agree with it, they're missing something in their soul???

This is why breastfeeding discussions go so badly. I don't understand why people have to be so "nazi" about it and it turn into bashing the people who have issues with it.

4:18 PM  
Blogger kateypie35 said...

I must take offense to that comment IDisposable. Its rather hurtful to state that anyone that disagrees, even the respectful ones, are "lacking something profound in their soul".

Um, no I am not.

I am a nursing mother. Actually, the other blogger also nursed her children.

Just because someone states that they personally would not let a stranger nurse their child, (ONE facet of nursing possibilities) does NOT make someone against breastfeeding completely. As HBM stated herself, its complex.

That is one theme that keeps being repeated that is really confusing to me. "Oh, they think breastfeeding is dirty, oh they think breastmilk is poison, oh they need to get over their squeamishness around boobs," etc. Why are people making that jump? The other blogger, nor I, nor any of the others who disagreed here, NEVER said anything against breastfeeding as a whole - just that they would not participate in cross nursing. (Maybe one Anon person said public bfing is icky, but that was NOT even close to a majority opinion.)

I will repeat. I would never let a stranger nurse my child. That is my decision, and I have valid concerns for choosing that side of this debate.

However, maybe I need to state what else I believe, so its clear? I believe nursing is beautiful and wonderful. I cannot imagine not nursing my child. I feel blessed that I am able to nurse. I do not have a boob phobia. Boobies are natural and wonderful and mine are made to give my child comfort and food. I can separate my feelings of my breasts being a sexual pleasure with my husband, and my breasts as nourishment for my child. I myself was breastfed. I am not squeamish about boobs, boobs are cool! My child is 13 months old, and I will continue to nurse him as long as he wants. I nurse in public. Often. I support other women who nurse in public. Often. I am educated. I have taken a course to be a breastfeeding counselor in my area. I applaud extended nursers. My husband supports me and my child and our breastfeeding relationship. I am kind. I am caring. I am loving. I am a woman. I am a Momma. GO BOOBIES!!!

4:57 PM  
Blogger kateypie35 said...

Oh, and see that little delicious face that is in my avitar? That is my darling boy, in a milkie coma after drinking from my BOOBS. In fact, maybe he wants to nurse RIGHT NOW!

4:59 PM  
Blogger Issas Crazy World said...

Still the best discussion in the blog world in months. Seriously, I can't seem to stay away.

One thing though: Catherine a while ago, a few (40ish) comments ago...I'm forgetting the time, but you said this: "Perhaps I do not have the right to respond, simply because so many people would support me and that skews some cosmic discursive balance."

Not true. Completely not true. Please, please don't believe this.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Massachusetts Mom said...

Clearly anyone who has a problem with this has never had her/his boobs hurt from being overfull. It is horrible.

Good for you - and even better for you to write about it.

5:19 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

I do not think this is such a big deal. I am curious why some people are so emotional about it either way. I also think it is interesting that Catherine is being celebrated for doing something so "brave." I do not think she should be villified or celebrated. She was in pain and looked for some relief. It isn't like she was feeding a starving country. I do not mean to be disrespecful at all, I just wonder where is the middle ground here?

5:29 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Hi Anonymous 11:10

I'm that "so-called friend" (term and quotes yours) who named Catherine in that thread.

It had to be done.

If the original post and comments remained live, you would see that my motives and rationale were perfectly reasonable - I was bringing a human face and name to the horrible, hurtful comments being slung about a situation that had already been discussed in public forums like twitter. And on this very blog.

Catherine and this blogger share more than 500 twitter followers in common. I was not telling tales out of school.

I found the original post because I clicked on a link from a comment the blogger had left elsewhere. And I'm not the only one. Because at that point, dozens of bloggers had already emailed Catherine about it.

See how this works?

We are all interconnected.

I'm not a mean girl by any standards, I'm not a troll, and I'm not hiding behind anonymity. So let's clear that right up.

Oh and one more thing? Catherine hasn't questioned my friendship and neither should you.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous jessica said...

I wish this would let me enter an email address but omit the URL, I don't care if YOU know who I am but I'm not interested in garnering attention from the people who did not get your memo.

Anyway, just my name will have to do.

I've got a wriggling nursling on my lap so forgive me for not reading the hundreds of other comments. I just wanted to chime in with my own story.

I am so confused by America's attitude towards nursing. It just continually blows my mind that such an innocent thing is constantly shunned by the masses. We are so messed up here. These issues aren't issues in other countries (to my knowledge).

My mother nursed my cousin when my cousin was a baby. My mother was babysitting and my cousin was accustomed to breastfeeding, missing her mother, and would not take a bottle. My mom popped her on and everyone was happy. My cousin's mother was grateful, not disgusted.

I nursed my best friend's baby when my friend was volunteering at the Utah Winter Olympics. She too was used to breastfeeding and my friend specifically asked me to babysit knowing I'd be able to nurse her child, having given birth to my own some months before.

I nursed my aunt's newborn during a horrific time when my aunt was dealing with a retained placenta, a blood clot, and a pulmonary embolism just a week after giving birth.

When a new mom was ill and her grandmother was trying to get her grand-daughter to take a bottle at church, I offered to nurse the baby seeing how upset both grandma and baby were (baby refused bottle). She politely told me no thanks, but I would have if she had been comfortable or felt it was needed.

When a woman in my neighborhood died unexpectedly in a car crash, my friend who had a little baby at the time rushed to help the family breastfeed the 2 month old infant she left behind. She continued to nurse that baby until they got him used to a bottle.

I had NO idea any of this could possibly misconstrued as disgusting or foul. I had no idea anyone would ever look on this aid as inappropriate. Of course I didn't know then that breastfeeding even your OWN child could cause a fuss either. I of course know better now; I know how people react. How things that are foreign or different to their way of thinking can shock and appall. But it doesn't change what I'd do. If your baby needs some milk and I've got some, I wouldn't hesitate to help. I don't understand how this can be viewed as anything less than good.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous Jane M said...

It's been a while since I felt this good about being single and child-free.

6:01 PM  
Anonymous Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said...

You know, I was at another website the other day that was discussing wet nurses and the validity in this day and age.

What I came up with is that I would not do what you have done with Laura's baby - but not for the reasons you think. I have an autoimmune disorder. My immune system is hyperactive and I have taken a substantial number of immuno-suppressant drugs over the years. Should they have leeched out of my body by now? Yes. CAN I GUARANTEE THAT? No. And I would never want to put another woman's child in the position of intaking something into their body that could harm them in a way that it might not harm my own child's body. In addition, I'm a chicken shit about potentially getting thrush from another baby and passing it on to my own, BUT in a case like your own I can't honestly say that would be my primary concern. I'd be more worried about harming the other woman's baby somehow.

I've thought, too, about whether or not I'd be willing to provide my baby to a woman like yourself under those circumstances, and I think that I would. I probably wouldn't want to - after all, you would be passing on a normal level of antibodies to a baby that would likely need and be accustomed to the higher level of antibodies that my body produces. In addition, at such a young age, I may not know whether or not my baby has inherited my disease, which means that it is possible that your diet may disrupt my child's digestion in unforeseen and phenomenally negative ways. But what is one feeding in the grand scope of things if it will alleviate some pain and if the odds are that I could handle even the most extreme of potential outcomes with my child's short-term health?

So I'd probably have offered my child up too.

I just would be scared to death to feed yours.

There is no ick factor here - biology is biology all the way around - and there is no judgment as it's none of my concern how other people parent so long as abuse or neglect are not involved (and this certainly does not constitute either). I don't really agree or disagree with the choice that you and Laura made, because I'm neither of you and don't know what is best for either of you or your children or your bodies. I haven't read the five million comments before me, but I hope that more people than not are at least on a similar wavelength with me here.

Not that it's wrong to disagree with me. I just can't believe that we've all come so far and fallen so far at the same time.

6:28 PM  
Anonymous gatorgumbo@rocketmail.com said...

I think we would all have to agree that this situation is not the "norm". Maybe some day it will be, but we're all just not there yet. I don't know if I want to be there myself. I'm just not comfortable with the idea of someone else breastfeeding my child to relieve THEIR discomfort. Maybe if my child was starving and it would aide them (my child) in some way, I would consider it, but just because an acquaintances boobs are hurting (and I KNOW what you were feeling) that is not enough of a reason for me to put myself, nor my child, out there for people to judge me. In a public place. I would also feel kind of crummy, after the fact, to find out that my child is somewhat in the center of a story that has gone ugly on the internet.

I think the cheers stating how courageous an act this was speaks volumes as to how uncomfortable most people are with the idea. Even those who are commenting with support. Normal everyday things don't need courage. They just are.

With that being said, I don't think you are a horrible person and I'm sorry that somebody has made you feel this way.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Rebekah said...

I'm sure my comment will be terribly unique and not at all repetitive of what the other 30 kajillion commenters have said about this post but I'll say it anyway - good for you. I think it is great that you nursed this baby and that you wrote about it. That's all.

Oh, one more thing: wouldn't it be lovely if mothers could be more supportive of and less critical with each other? You may not agree with what another mom may do, but how about just saying that?

6:58 PM  
Blogger lorrielink said...

@ new (I assume) saddened anonymous= umm, so since she wasn't "discreet" the other person should be able to blog about it untruthfully, but HBM should not feel bothered by the post at all? and also keep her mouth shut. on her own blog?? umm....

I am still loving all the "double think" going on with how the other blogger should be able to blog about it but how dare HBM do it cause she's like popular and stuff. I mean, don't you see the contradiction? at all?

if your wondering why breastfeeding discussions "go so badly" you might want to stop calling them nazis. just a thought.

HGM cetainly does not seem ashamed for what she did, why should she? she posted about it because of the rudeness on the other post. how can that not be clear. it has been stated more than once.


I'm pretty sure HBM has already had 15 minutes of fame. and falls right out of that category since she will certainly be having more minutes of fame in the future: that Warhol statement is meant for common people who normally don't get any spot light at all. your referance doesn't even apply to her.

about the "keep it private" remarks, wow. i. just. wiat i need to travel foward in time from the midwestern 50's for a moment i just won't start on that except to say that ..

i think it's wonderful that we are so advanced now that there are people who have no idea that breastfeeding is an issue at all. i wish i'd been in on that, and the many many many other woman who have been ostracized from their families, friends, churches,etc., been asked by security guards to leave public museums, public pools, public PARKS for the vulgarity of breastfeeding thier child.
Stores made you use the bathroom-with your child!, multi-million dollar companies with thousands of employees were not required to give "pumping breaks" even to new mothers and they had to use the restroom at their own place of work.
woman have been forced off of airplanes before take-off by stewardesses for breastfeeding a newborn,
cps has been called many times on a mother nursing her child over 6 months.

it has only been about 6 short years since the American Pediatrics Association caught on finally and changed their official standing from 6 months only to at least a year and beyond.and it took years for most pediatric doctors to catch on to that.
even now, places like facebook will delete pictures of nursing mothers from their profiles even if there is NO BOOB SHOWING, but bikini-clad models with wet hard nipples are all over the place.
does every woman experiance these things? nope, have millions, yes.

so, you didnt know all that? thats great, it means maybe we are evolving, but you dont get to say "why are we so upset, theres no reason for it?",because there is.

and that is why all the comments about bravery and courage are right on. because it is a risk, because it is a beacon for getting slammed. because people cant even keep on-topic with this. including me.

7:13 PM  
Anonymous JB said...

Found a fantastic website for nursing mothers..

www.breastpumpsexpress.com

7:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again. Hung up on breastfeeding is not the case. Hung up on her sharing breastmilk isn't even the case. The case was not even her blogging about it. She has a right to it also. However, having people call the other blogger names and saying she was closed minded because she observed it and commented badly on it is. /shrug

Last I checked there is a huge movement of mommies who feel like because the way they feel about breast milk is the gospel, they've taken up this cause to become very vocal about it. Fine. But don't put others down because they don't agree with you.

I don't have a problem with women feeding in public if they have any sort of decency about it. But I shouldn't have to explain to my 4 year old god son what a breast is and why that woman is showing hers in public.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Mamajama said...

fantastic comment lorrielink. I was trying to come up with an eloquent response, but yours was perfect!

8:04 PM  
Blogger Lara said...

I think you are outrageously awesome and brave - for doing this, and for posting about it.

And I'd really love to know what brand of bra you wear - it looks really comfy.

I've been reading your blog since I had my own baby 15 months ago, and I can't thank you enough for your clever, insightful, brave and often confronting posts. I am a bad mother too, and it's wonderful to know I'm not alone.

Lara in Australia

8:18 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

Coming back to respond to Karen who asked why this is courageous...

An act does not have to be courageous in itself in order for the person doing it to be courageous. Sitting on a bus seat is not a courageous act in itself. The social context sitting on the bus seat during Rosa Park's time made her act courageous.

Similarly, relieving breast engorgement is not courageous in itself. Relieving engorgement in a society that will then make hundreds if not thousands of comments about it ... well, that's courage to me.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Scattered Mom said...

I saw the twitter drama yesterday and came back today to see what the fuss was all about.

A few thoughts occurred to me:

1. I personally couldn't/wouldn't allow someone I just met breastfeed my child, nor could I breastfeed another woman's child. Sure, I've never breastfed and so some people would say that I should just shut up then, but for me it's something I wouldn't feel comfortable doing. It's a line of intimacy that I wouldn't want to share with any children other then my own. Call me selfish, but that's how I feel about it.

2. I find it interesting that commenters have said that the person who wrote about it should not have taken something she saw, that was none of her business, and then written a post on it and judged. Don't bloggers do that fairly often? We write about our kid's teachers or friend's parents, we judge the lady in the Walmart with the screaming kids, our relatives, or celebrities we see on TV. Are any of us immune? Or is it just bad to do so when the person is well known on the Internet and can possibly find the post? Do we then censor we say?

In other words, had the incident happened in a McDonalds, with two people that nobody knew, would it be okay to write about it then? Or would it still have been considered judgmental and none of her business?

I'm not making a judgment here but instead a curious observation. My philosophy is to each their own. It's an interesting topic, and certainly food for thought about being careful about what we post.

ALL the time.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

You know, this was between two consenting adults who had a discussion and made an agreement. It's not like you clubbed her over the head and then snuck the baby under the table to nurse. I've been engorged like that and it is miserable---she showed you an act of true kindness and friendship. I'm sorry some people can't see that.

8:52 PM  
Blogger The Daily Blonde said...

Scattered Mom:
You said this far better than I did. Point #2 is what I'm referring to. So, so true. We can talk about celebrities, people in the market, bad drivers and people in politics. We can bash them and they'll never know. Or we can say great things and they'll probably still never know. But bloggers are a special breed. Most I've met are some of the greatest people I've encountered. Then there are gossipy people who don't want you to write about others but they want to gossip about it.

It's a no win situation whatever we do. I will not change who I am for the sake of a few comments.

We need to be careful, yes...but we also need to feel free to be ourselves. ALL the time.

8:53 PM  
Blogger The Daily Blonde said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:03 PM  
Blogger HollowSquirrel said...

Late to the drama and just catching up, but hope I'm not too late to tell you that I completely and utterly support you and Laura one hundred percent. Hugs.

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved your story, up until the point where someone else freaked out and apparently used exaggeration to stoke paranoia and fear in others. Sheesh. Thank you for sharing this with us.

If I'd been in your position, I would have been hesitant to accept the offer. Not because I personally find anything wrong with it, but because it goes against so much of our cultural training. I hate that my first reaction was discomfort. My deeper, final reaction is a combination of awe and happiness. I find myself thinking, "Yes! This is the world I want to live in." In reading your story, the walls have already begun to crumble. Should I be in a similar position one of these days, the knee-jerk fear will already be weak and irrelevant, allowing me to move forward confidently (and possibly even bring others with me).

Hm, I think I started to ramble there. That happens sometimes, when I try to express transcendent emotion. Bottom line: Thank you for this.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Desiree Fawn said...

Good for you :) I don't think this is wrong at all and you are SO RIGHT to stand up for yourself.
Kudos & love.
<3

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

I am so sorry that you experienced something so hurtful- honestly it was nobody's place to judge you. I know I would have done this. I was nursing twins and my boobs might have exploded. I never really tried hand expression...I loved the hospital pump I rented. I carried that heavy beast with me all the time.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Candace said...

Wow. 480 comments already. Most controversial post ever?

Frankly, I am surprised at how controversial it is.

I personally might do as you did, though I doubt I would allow someone else to feed my baby if I did not know her EXTREMELY well and if I was right there, able to feed him. If you were my closest friend for years, and I couldn't feed him at that time, I would have definitely done it.

You are now the Selma Hayek of the mom blogging world ;) May your breasts be as spectacular and nourishing.

9:47 PM  
Blogger Lazy Daisy Marie said...

Hi Catherine, Cheryl, and Commenters!

I've never read this blog til today and hadn't the slightest idea who you (Catherine) were when I originally read TDB's original post on the topic. And possibly because I don't know you, I didn't find it inflammatory at all. And, this was the first post of Cheryl's I had ever read, so I wasn't exactly batting for one team or the other.

I just reread TDB's original post to make sure I wasn't misremembering it, and still, I see absolutely nothing hateful or personal there. I think that most of this drama has risen from the comments of that original post, but I wouldn't really blame Cheryl for that. Some people have strong reactions to the idea of breastsharing/babysharing. I do not believe any of the reactions were intended to shame you for choosing differently from what someone else would've done.

And, in rereading the OP at TDB, I found only one comment from Cheryl that could be taken personally, that "feeding a stranger's baby is just a little nuts in my eyes". Even if someone is looking to be offended and is personally identifying themselves with their choices/actions, the worst being said in that post would still only be "whoever does that must be nuts!". . . and that's seeking out the insult!

And even if someone had posted something as obviously deranged as "any woman who chooses to do x, y, or z with her boobs is bonkers", who cares? If you know it's not crazy, it's not, and whatever so and so thinks, writes, or shouts through a megaphone doesn't change that!

I don't think Cheryl implied that you or Laura were blithe, irresponsible, deviant, or disgusting. I don't believe Cheryl was disgusted with you and I don't think disgust was flaunted. Yes, people said dumb things in the comments. People have said dumb things in these comments too. That's not the blogger's fault or responsibility and I'd hate it if all of us were held accountable for everything our commenters said. It seems clear that those people who said "what if the person had HIV" or "didn't have the same standards of health as me" did not know who the original post was about, so it's unnecessary to take those comments personally and be hurt by them. And it's unnecessary for a mob of supporters from either side to gang up on the original poster because of what commenters have said.

What do those people know anyway? You can be sure that in your situation, with the information you possessed, you made a fine choice! But an observer does not have the information you had. Onlookers can just work with what they do have, and all Cheryl knew was that you and Laura had only met recently. And for some people, it doesn't matter what was discussed or if she was nice and appeared healthy. For some, the fact that these two people met not long ago means this isn't even close to the threshold of something they'd be okay with. And that's fine.

The beautiful thing about understanding differences and agreeing to disagree is that just because I might not be okay with sharing my baby or my breast does not mean I'm not okay with a woman who is. And I direct that towards both original posters and the commenters on both posts.

... I guess coming by and singing KumBayYah would've been easier? Oops! =X ...

9:50 PM  
Blogger Lazy Daisy Marie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Lazy Daisy Marie said...

P.S. I've never been close to being in this situation myself, but I can't imagine I'd breastfeed another's baby for my own relief or that I'd offer my baby in the situation. Family? Probably. Close, long-time friends? Maybe. New friends? Eh, not so much.

Props to you all for being okay with your choices. The tough part is being okay with others' choices too.

The only thing I found disturbing in this whole exchange was everyone's cruelty and contention with one another. Live and let live.

10:05 PM  
Blogger lorrielink said...

Again. Anonymous: HBM never had people call the other blogger names and say she was close minded because she observed it and commented bady on it. __ some of us did that on our own. some of us are just not as evolved as HBM, and im not sorry.

Again. Anonymous: last i checked this post and following comments have nothing to do with any "huge movement of mommies": nobody here even knows what you're talking about with that. if you have issues with some other "huge movement of mommies" then take issue with them. or better yet, just leave them alone, since you are obviously not interested in them, so there, now you can relax.

Again. Anonymous: yes, you should have to. we don't care if you have a problem with it or not. its not about you. at. all.
you do not get to define decency. you are entitled to your opinion. we are entitled to our rights and our childrens' rights. which i dare say are more important. no its not anyone elses problems what your hang-ups about why 4 year olds should not know about breastfeeding are. you are welcome to them, we have no right to say anything against you about your choices.
thats what this is really about; choices, freedom of choice, even uncomfortable ones we're still not sure were the right one.

breasts can will and should be bared freely by nursing mothers (and maybe some others;)) who are sitting in a PUBLIC (as in, does not belong to you alone) area trying to hitch up her shirt and keep the undertank down over her tummy while holding squirming babe in the other hand while attempting to get that damn bra unlatched while keeping the pad in place with her other hand while watching out for dissaproving glances from total strangers who are doing not a damn thing to help her out.



@Mamajama don't make me blush, no one has ever accused me of being eloquent. chronic foot in mouth girl, yes.



i don't know this other woman or her blog or anything. i've certainly said some dumbass things in my life. not on a blog, but there is still time for that ;) people that i have intentionally or unintentionally hurt certainly have a right to be vocal about it. by whatever means they have. how could you say they wouldn't have a right to that? or maybe they shouldn't if they have more friends than me? or more minutes on their phone? what's the line to draw?

and since HBM has rightfully chosen to stop repeating herself for those not able to keep up with the point of this post.
it is not an issue of it having been blogged about: it IS an issue that the post by the other party was DELIBERATELY inflammatory and fanned the flames in the comments to said post and on twitter.
said original blogger EMAILED HBM to the truth of that.
only a few commenters here have openly flamed other blogger for that.
HBM posted her in HER OWN BLOG about her hurt FEELINGS about it. no one (logical) will say she has no right to do that in indirect response to other blogger.




sorry about using words like "us" an "we" so much. im not trying to represent everyone here. it just sounds more dramatic that way.



i don't mind repeating myself. there are three penises in my house. i'm used to it.

10:09 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

what people find is wrong is so astounding to me. don't doubt the mutual decision you made with Laura.

you had milk. her baby got fed.

end of fucking story.

10:09 PM  
Blogger iMommy said...

Wow, guess I was under a rock yesterday!

I just wanted to chime in, though the discussion is dying down, and say that this is a real tough subject, but an interesting one.

I breastfed my baby girls for about 6-8 weeks, each, and couldn't continue. Because of that, I think I might have some personal issues around another mother breastfeeding my kids... mostly a jealousy/self-worth issue, I think. And since I didn't breastfeed for long, I don't know whether I would have been comfortable breastfeeding another child. I hardly had time to get comfortable feeding my own!

But in the end, I think that it's a perfectly OK thing to do. It was Laura's decision to let you breastfeed her daughter. It was your decision to accept her offer. Since neither of you are currently on trial for child neglect or abuse, I'm figuring you are at least halfway decent mothers, and have the best interest of your children at heart.

So if it made sense to you, then great! I hope that this discussion hasn't tarnished your memory of that moment, because it was obviously a great moment for you.

And, cheers for keeping comments open here. That is the bravest thing of all, I think.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Me said...

Just to throw another "what if" into the works: did you tell Laura you had recently been tattooed? Because milk donors, like blood donors, are discouraged from giving donations for 12 months following the tattoo, just in case.

I think I could nurse someone else's child, and vice versa, but I also think I would have to know that person a lot better than a "just met" sort of knowledge. And the needle exposure thing...well, I'd certainly want to know about that.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous I'm Anon 12:24 PM said...

Still anonymous, but at least I've distinguished myself a bit. :)

Mamajama, I just reread my comment to Catherine four times, and at no point did I ever say that she should muzzle herself, or "tell her to take the criticism without giving any herself," tacitly or openly. Where are you getting that from? I'm really trying hard to see it (and indeed, I read and reread my post quite a few times before posting to make sure my message was respectful and on point), and I'm confused as to how you got that from anything I said. Furthermore, I didn't say anything about CATHERINE being snarky/bullying, but rather, that a lot of the people who have rallied around her have engaged in those activities. It's just my impression, and it doesn't mean it's right or wrong. It's just what I've observed as someone on the very fringes of this world. Can you please explain to me where you're seeing that? Because if there's anywhere you're seeing that, I'd like to know, truly.

And Catherine, I do sincerely thank you for:(a) not taking issue with my comment (I hope!) and (b)writing such a detailed, thoughtful response. I only want to now clarify that I didn't intend any part of my comment to say that you should stay quiet when hurt because you're a popular blogger. No. That's ludicrous. What I was trying to get at with that point was that when a big blogger says "Hey! Someone hurt me/pissed me off!" they HAVE to be cognizant of the ripple effect it has in the blogosphere, where a number of followers viciously (yes, viciously) attack the offending party. REGARDLESS of whether the offending party was wrong, two wrongs don't make a right. That's all I was saying about that. I'm NOT offering a solution (I don't have one, really, other than that we should ALL be a little bit nicer, and as you said, think if we'd say to someone's face the things we post in comments), and I'm NOT saying that you have to be silent when hurt; I was simply saying that I keep seeing this pattern repeated all over the blogosphere, and I was only trying to call your attention to it, here, since this situation went down.

Thanks again for listening, responding to my very real questions, and allowing dissenting commentary/overall thoughtful dialogue on this matter.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

the new girl said, "It's just amazing how far we've all come (gone?) in just one generation. When my father was young, wet nursing was COMMON. It happened all the time."

I generally object to these type of assertions for this reason: a generation ago children didn't wear seatbelts. Were our parents right or wrong? After all, we're talking about the same generation.

Historically wet-nursing was acceptable because of circumstances, not because people were educated about its safety. Anytime you have transmission of bodily fluids, there is cause for concern, or at the very least - caution.

I don't believe this makes me "anti breastfeeding" either.

I can appreciate that you are a healthy nursing mother, but you are also a stranger who might have lied about her health, or even been unaware of a medical condition. Laura took a leap of faith that many wouldn't have taken with their own child.

Does it mean she made the wrong decision? Only she can say for certain.

Regardless, I'm sorry that both you, and the person who opposed you, have had to deal with angry, flaming comments.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Stacy said...

You know, I actually went and read the other post, and I think everyone reallllly overreacted. She didn't personally attack you - it seems like MOM101 started most of the cattiness and turned it into something more involved than it needed to be. What you did was controversial. That means some people will disagree with it. To each his own goes both ways.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Secret Agent Mama said...

I don't know? but what if? what if we as a society did this more? what if it would make us all the more compassionate? I'm leaning towards it being so. It's unfortunate to hear/read negative comments on something so perfect, so natural, so giving.

I think what you both did that day was compassionate and good. I'm in awe.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I went and read TDP's post too. Her description of what happened between two mothers was rather one dimensional, and engendered the kind of responses it received; not the thoughtful discussion TDP says she intended.
HBM has once again eloquently and articulately presented an interesting and complicated situation for all of us to think about and discuss respectfully.
Before today, I can honestly say that breastfeeding someone else's child, or allowing another mother to bf my own child is something I never would have even considered. After reading all of this, though, I don't know that my response would be so automatic.
Something about walking 1000 miles in another's moccasins......

11:46 PM  
Blogger Cheryl Lage said...

Hey Catherine--
Let me start by saying I was very happy to have met both you and Laura this past weekend. I found you both to be lovely women, committed to your children and extremely thoughtful in expressing your views. (I've read your blog for a while, and you had some very kind word and ideas for me.)

While I don't know that I'd have offered my breast to another baby or my babies to another's breast, (and as a mom who breastfed twins, I'm quite familiar with the pain of engorgement!), the decision was absolutely yours to make.

I also had the chance to meet the other blogger...who also seems to be equally lovely, committed to her children and thoughtful in expressing her views. Reading the post she initially put up, I didn't get the condemnation, so much as curiosity...
questioning...
and a seemingly genuine interest in feedback. It IS an interesting topic for 21st century westernized mothers...breastfeeding supporters included.

Here's hoping this episode helps us all work toward supporting all mothers' perspectives...regardless of their coincidence with our own.

Glad to have met you, to have met Laura, and to have met the blogger whose post spurred this one. (and am ever-so glad I missed the Twitter aspect of it...)

Wishing you peace and happy parenting---keep in touch--

11:47 PM  
Blogger A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Alright. I'll go ahead and add comment # 1,000,000. My son was born at 4lb. 13 oz. Small. By C. Per doc instructions, I walked and walked the halls. Went by the nursery. There was a tiny baby in there, just my son's size. His dad was loooking at her through the glass. "Where's Mom?" I asked. "Oh," he said, "she's in a coma. Hasn't even held her yet and she's two weeks old."

So I bit my lip hard so I wouldn't cry and said to him, please, please let me nurse her. "Oh, no mam, that's okay. She's getting fed. They're giving her formula," he said (he clearly didn't understand). "But breast milk is better for her, especially at her size. I'd really like to," I said.

It was pure instinct, and pure normal. I still wonder about that little tiny girl whose mom hadn't held her yet. And cry, of course. The hormones never go away.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I came over from Imaginary Binky.

As I read your story, I am appalled that something so wonderful for two mothers and one child has been reduced to words like 'dirty' 'diseased' 'drug addict' and 'immoral'.

Hearty BRAVA to Laura, for seeing your need and her child's and creating a bonding moment between mothers. Don't we need more moments like this? Isn't this what "it takes a village" all about?

I'm sorry that you were villified for being in pain and taking the solution offered. Shame on the blogger who feels that this is something dirty to disparage.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Ann of Green Cables said...

You and your friend did no wrong. I know you don't me to tell you this. It's for others who will say differently. There used to be a perfectly accepted position of 'Wetnurse'. That is what you did when you nursed her baby. ( I loved nursing my 4 babies) WetNurse..an honourable job/lifestyle and accepted as such. People should just MYOB. If Nosey Noras have that much time on their hands to gossip about you, they should put their time to better use and actually help people who are in dire straits....no money for food, shelter, clothing, etc., instead of sitting on their fat A**es writing harmfull crap! So, this Gra'ma sends you both a big hug and a wish for all the best in life.

12:40 AM  
OpenID squishsplash said...

You did good. Proud of you. If only there were more of it!

1:26 AM  
Blogger Bianka said...

Wow, TONS of comments already on this one! I'm sorry some people have trouble expressing their opinions without being mean. I like to call those people.. not so smart.

As for my take on the matter, I would have no problem what so ever nursing someone else's baby. I see nothing wrong with that, because you know, I know where my boobs have been and I know what I've put into my body. On the other hand, I'd have a hard time letting someone else nurse my baby for the same reasons.. I don't know what the other person has been doing.

Bravo to you for nourishing a child! Bravo to Laura for trusting you!

3:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forgive me for not reading through all of the comments to see if someone has already posted about this, but did you know Salma Hayek very publicly breastfed an infant that was not her own child on a trip to Sierra Leone last month? I think people responded very positively to it. Isn't it interesting how the same behavior provokes different reactions when it is done by a celebrity vs. a non-celebrity? Here's a link to the story in case you missed it: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/Story?id=6854285&page=1

3:49 AM  
Blogger Belle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:34 AM  
Blogger AimeeRosie said...

Good for you!

5:45 AM  
Blogger Belle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:49 AM  
Blogger Belle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Belle said...

Your comment policy on this issue amuses me. Who decides on the difference between 'opinion' and 'damning moral judgement'? Do you have a panel, or is it just you? You met a woman at a conference. You had coffee with her and you had a 'discussion' with her about breastfeeding and health issues. Just so that I'm clear on this - she was NOT a stranger to you for these reasons? So you breastfed this woman's baby. I have no problem with that whatsoever. It was your call. I just would never have done it myself. As for trust and community. I would trust people at face-value with many things, but NEVER the welfare of my children.

6:03 AM

6:06 AM  
Anonymous BGC said...

Laura's baby was a year old, right? At one year old, my son was eating dog food off the floor and possum poo. I don't see how breastmilk from a stranger could be worse than that. :-)

Seriously, I thought that your post was a lovely heartwarming story. I have a breastfeeding friend with a baby - toddler now - the same age as mine and always wondered if we could share. I'm not sure I would be completely comfortable with it, but I certainly don't think it would be wrong.

7:56 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Belle - who decides the difference between opinion and damning moral judgment here? Me. My space. My rules. I'm under no obligation to permit anyone to say whatever they want here, none at all.

And, I'm not trying to justify anything. Just telling my story. Something was written about me that was inaccurate, and a comments thread was *encouraged* - and fed by the author, who actively supported the commenters - to speculate about the degree of disgustingness of what happened (the author even dropped in comments implying that I might have been drunk). Borderline defamatory.

Readers and friends brought it to my attention, and I responded. Why is this so extraordinary and amusing?

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, in an emergency, nursed another woman’s baby. Her husband dropped the baby at my door as they were on the way to the hospital (she had broken her leg). The father said to me…. Sam might be hungry…. Could you nurse him if necessary. At the time my still nursing son was one. Sure enough the baby got hungry…. I nursed him (he was only two months old and had never had anything else). It felt perfectly natural…but not the same as nursing my own.

I wonder what the objectors would think of this true story. I met a woman who had lost her baby immediately after birth. An adoptive baby came available within weeks. She put the adopted baby to the breast and there was milk. She nursed that baby for two years. The baby was not biologically hers…yet she nursed her and raised her as her own. She told me that it felt perfectly natural and she felt blessed to be able to feed her adopted daughter.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

I applaud your action, your courage and your honesty. Most of all, I applaud your willingness to moderate this important discussion.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Katie Kat said...

I do want to chime in to say that I think Anon 12:24 has a very valid point regarding the "pack mentality" and the viciousness shown for anyone who might disagree with Catherine.

I found out about this whole thing through Twitter, and there were definitely comments left there that would make people who wanted to share a differing opinion think twice about it lest they be flamed, or worse. This included a comment from one person who said if anyone messed with HBM they would "drop an f'ing bomb on them." I respect the person who wrote that and her loyalty to someone she truly cares about, but it does send a rather harsh message to people who might feel a lot more like Anon 12:24 and who aren't willing to risk the fallout (hence using "Anonymous").

Anyway, I just think it's something to think about. As a very popular blogger, your actions DO become public "fodder" if you will for discussion and criticism. It's why I think all bloggers such as you are so brave and so valuable. I just think it's important to keep in mind that if you choose to do something controversial (which I think you knew it was after reading your comment that 2 weeks ago you weren't sure you would have done it) and then comment on it in your blog, you might want to call off the dogs just a touch to allow your real message to be heard without too much catty rehtoric getting in the way.

Still and all, I think this is fascinating and I have learned a lot by reading your account of it!

12:08 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Katie Kat - I'm still sorting out my thoughts about my responsibilities as a quote-unquote popular blogger. I feel badly about the fire-and-brimstone that hailed upon the other blogger's head. But it still feels weird, the idea that I need to 'call off my dogs' - people act of their own accord - and apart from what was being said here, I had no idea what was said to her/about her, because I was avoiding her comment and twitter streams to protect my own feelings.

But - full disclosure - I did know that there was a backlash going on, and I knew that it was because, in part, I'm liked and respected and that some of that backlash had little to do with the debate and much to do with people taking sides and that it was probably hurtful to her, and I feel badly that I wasn't quicker in saying publicly that I wanted people to be nice to each other.

So, yeah, I'm conflicted. And feeling badly, and a bit guilty, and still trying to sort out my feelings.

12:27 PM  
Blogger paperfairies said...

HBM, I've been really thinking about this, hard, because I am convinced certain topics illicit these reactions for reasons that are culturally complex and fascinating. Can I share? Thanks.

I am positive that aside from the possible health issues involved in cross nursing there is FOR SURE a bigger societal stigma with breasts and sexuality than there is danger. The past five decades have skewed reality sexualizing what is created by nature to nurture, nothing else. The reason men are instinctively attracted to large breasts is the subconscious thought that "those boobies will feed my offspring so it will thrive."

Even though milksharing happens in certain cultures it usually stems from need, if not necessary, moms just feed their own. (we know all about how maternal milk is formulated specifically for one's baby) I think what swayed your decision stemmed from the need to relieve your pain.

If it is true that you would let your baby feed off another mom, then that means you are willing to accept the risks however negligible they are. You in your heart don't believe it is dangerous, no more than any other daily activity. But, what made you question whether you would do what you did (before you did it) is that very societal stigma. Heck, even the medical community advises against it, so you pause, and think because you can make decisions for your son and for yourself based on your belief but not for someone else. I think that is why in your post you had to say that you tried expressing, you couldn't find a pump, you looked into every venue before doing "the deed".

Ultimately if this served to reaffirm your belief it goes to show that those cultural standpoints are sometimes worthy of a big ol' "suck it".

12:56 PM  
Blogger Perky said...

First off, let's get my basic bio out of the way, shall we???? I was adopted and my children are adopted. My brother was adopted. Many of my friends have adopted and most of the rest bottle-fed.

Therefore, I have precious little experience with breast-feeding. I readily admit that I KNOW NOTHING!!!!

Accordingly, I have very few opinions on whether what you did was "right", "wrong", "icky", "brave", or anything else.

So why am I posting????? Simply this --- I agree with you 100%! It's your boobs, your milk and her child.

WHO CARES WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS ABOUT IT OR WHETHER THEY WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME THING?

You helped a new friend, relieved your pain, and fed a hungry child - those are all good things in my book.

Those other people who are freaking out need to chill out and worry about the things in life that are within their control!

Would I have done what you did? Who knows. BUT, I'm SURE I wouldn't have gotten up in your face about it!

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Katie Kat said...

Oh, and one last comment! I truly believe the overall most important thing about this entire situation is that you and the other mother TALKED AND AGREED about it. Therefore (IMO) the only thing people really have a right to comment on is the public venue or their feelings about the subject. As you have said many times here, the way in which it was done and the resulting vitriol was not only unnecessary, but hurtful to both of you as well as to all women and the idea of furthering our knowledge about the subject. Sometimes we are out own worst enemies!

1:04 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

I'm loving the conversation about breast feeding other people's children and I'm loving the learning and sharing of experiences this has brought out.

I'm totally not getting the moral outrage--by you (Catherine) or a lot of commenters on both "sides."

Someone disagreed with you breast feeding another person's child, blogged about it and had people who regularly follow her blog agree with her?

SHOCKING.

Come on.

I mean, hey, I get that it stings to be talked about (especially by people who don't know you), but that's sort of what you open yourself up to when blogging/twittering/whatevering in this day and age, no?

I very much appreciated your post describing the experience, it was something I never really thought about before (just reactively thought, "Nah, not for me.") Now I'm thinking more critically about it and I appreciate that (a lot of your writing does that, so thanks!).

But to react at all to the other person's blog post? Eh. Whatever. She wrote about it. She wanted to talk about it. It was basically a hypothetical. Why react at all? You believe in your actions enough that you don't have to defend them, right? The thin skin argument falls a little short when you clearly put yourself out there as a woman-centered, feminist mom (which I shout BRAVA to, by the way.)

And the "gang" mentality is unimpressive. "Followers" are a scary thing to have I think.

Thanks for sharing, though, I think the best part of this shitstorm is the thinking it's made a lot of people do.

Sincerely,
Liz

1:35 PM  
Blogger Mamajama said...

Hi Anonymous from yesterday, I just reread both of our comments, and I guess I don't know what you were asking Catherine to do if you weren't saying that as a powerful blogger she shouldn't have called attention to the fact that she was criticized and that it hurt. I simplified that by calling it taking crit without giving any. Because I think that's basically what it amounts to.

I don't think that because Catherine is a more popular blogger that she should have to eat extra crap. It's hard enough being a Mom and having all the usual criticism.

I wasn't saying that you called her snarky, I just pointed out that she wasn't. I also wanted you to realize that she doesn't really have control about what her readers do with the information. Some want to fight for her honor, some want to tear the other lady down, some get mean and nasty, some start a good discussion. I was just saying it's the nature of this medium, and blaming HBM for people getting mad at the other lady doesn't make much sense to me.

I kind of think that the whole thing is pretty fair game. I think the original blogger had a right to post on the topic she did...I haven't read the original post, but HBM felt it was an unfair portrayal. I think she has every right to post her own side. She's an honest blogger, and that's why so many of us love to read her.

I hope it's more clear to you now what I was trying to convey. I did appreciate the tone of your post. It was so much more respectful that most of the other Anonymous posters.

1:41 PM  
Blogger e-mommie A.K.A Iliana Zúñiga said...

I think you and Laura are just awesome women

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Sara said...

I may be a bit blase about the possibility of viral infection... But isn't there a standard regimen of blood tests that mom gets while pregnant including the HIV test, syphillis, and a bunch of other tests for the things that pass through mom's milk?

One mom mentioned Epstein Barr as a reason not to allow another mom to breastfeed her baby. Epstein Barr does not pass through breast milk, nor does the herpes virus. A baby is more likely to be exposed to Epstein Barr by being held than by being breastfed. What DOES pass through breastmilk is EB antibodies.

The screening tests mom has to get in order to donate milk are simply: HTLV, HIV, Syphillis, and Hepatitis.

2:43 PM  
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