I was, and still am, completely floored by the reaction she received upon posting that she had breastfed another mother's baby, whom she barely knew but felt she could trust, because she was in excrutiating pain from overengorgement (having left her breastpump at home, traveled to conference without her own baby, and unable to find suitable alternative pump around).
Well, that's sorta the gist of it, anyway. But I couldn't possibly do it justice, so please go read it for yourselves at They Shoot Wet Nurses, Don't They?
But for my part, I'm overflowing with questions. Because the first half of the issue, the would-I-have-nourished-another-child part, doesn't seem all that difficult to answer. Maybe it would be weird. Maybe it would have to be a dire situation for the child. Maybe it would feel totally natural as something we should've always been doing in our society.
But the second part, the would-I-have-volunteered-my-child-to-help-another-mother-in-distress is the part that's causing the big hoopla over there. And I can't say with all conviction that I don't understand why. And that surprised me.
I feel ashamed, I think, that I probably would not have allowed another woman that I did not really know (and truly, how can you ever really know anyone) breastfeed my child. Nor would I allow them to give my child milk from a bottle they pulled from their own diaper bag. So, I don't think this is a breast issue. I think, for me, it's a general social mistrust issue that has evolved over decades and feeds on paranoia fanned by the media -- that you just never know anymore who you can trust, and so you trust no one.
And I really am embarrassed to admit that I recognize that limitation in myself. What kind of woman, mother, human being would I be to just sit there and watch another woman in agony and not help? How amazing was it that this woman, a virtual stranger, didn't really even think twice about helping another woman, mother, human being in need? That it was almost knee-jerk. That someone needed help, and she had the solution.
And I think that it's this feeling, this shame and embarrassment of not being able to say that I, too, would have been that compassionate, that I, too, am selfless enough to give of my flesh, that I, too, would help another without preconditions or disclaimers -- it's this feeling that's making so many other women, mothers, human beings lash out at the one who did. Insinuating that these women were irresponsible, irrational, uncaring mothers maybe somehow makes them feel better about not being able to be that selfless themselves.
And I know that the breastfeeding issue itself is such a powerfully divisive issue already in this country. Top that off now with popping your boobie in your friend's baby's mouth and, of course, you've got fireworks. But what's so awful about this whole deal is that these women -- all of them -- the one who loaned out her child, the one who breastfed, and the one who blasted them on her blog -- were all at a conference for women bloggers. And that's just sad. In a place where women should be empowering other women, what resulted was essentially a cyber catfight.
And, ultimately, the original blogger took her post down. But what we don't know is why. She didn't post her reasons, which only left the blogging community to assume she was "bullied" into doing so. But assumptions is what got us into this predicament in the first place. I would much rather her have stood by her post and defended it -- because when it comes down to it, she's entitled to whatever opinion she wants to have and share. And the debate the issue has sparked, I think, is a great moment of self-reflection for women, mothers, bloggers everywhere. But don't start self-censoring. And don't cower. Post an addendum if you must, but stand by what you said or don't post it in the first place.
Anyway...long story short, in my opinion, herbadmother blogger, Catherine, summed it up perfectly:
"This is my motherhood. These are my boobs. Hands off."