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Supporting my Non-Breastfeeding Daughter-In-Law … Part I

 I first realized the initial true feelings Sadie had regarding breastfeeding before they were even married.  I was staying with my son and his fiance — my future daughter-in-law– while attending the ILCA conference in 2006. We were at an ice-cream stand on a warm summer evening. There was a family with young children nearby. The toddler fell down, then while the mother comforted him, he snuggled to nurse for a while. I looked on admiringly. Sadie was disgusted. She commented on how that was totally ridiculous for a baby that size to be breastfeeding! And in public no less! “It turns me off even more about breastfeeding! I will NEVER be doing that!”
I had often cared for young girls with negative feelings about breastfeeding in my career so that didn’t surprise me. What I wasn’t prepared for was that this young woman was going to be the mother of my future grandchildren. I was a little afraid inside. I don’t know why exactly but I was.  Somehow, it hadn’t entered my mind that she may not want to breastfeed. I took for granted that she’d want to breastfeed like all of my family had, and like all the next generation young females had indicated they would. That was wrong of me. I didn’t really know this young woman yet. I didn’t know her dreams, desires or plans regarding motherhood. I had to be able to support her– no matter what!

So how do I discuss this with her? How would you? Do I even go there? Does she even want to talk about it? All you breastfeeding moms with young sons out there….. have you ever thought about this?

As a breastfeeding advocate and a health care professional, I always encounter situations where a mom and/or her friends, partner, family etc., talk about breastfeeding negatively with obvious emotion and often certain misinformation. I try to carefully find an avenue to open the door to an informative discussion attempting to gently educate and dispel untruths. Sometimes that is challenging. Sometimes it is my professional responsibility.  Sometimes it is just an overheard remark by family and the opportunity isn’t quite ripe for a discussion so I can only say one little line with humor to “put in a positive plug” so to speak. It takes experience to know when to talk and a greater wisdom to know when to shut-up.

That day –> I choose to stay away from her personal feelings and instead said a few positive things about how the cultures around the world regarding feeding were so different from our American culture…. I was meeting amazing people at the conference… the average world weaning age was around 4 years old…etc…etc.  I talked about how her future husband was still taking a bottle at age 4 and how he needed that. Then I asked her if she had been breastfed. She was a twin and her mother had not wanted to breastfeed, so no.  She then told me that her mother tried to breastfeed her younger brother (Sadie was 14 at the time) but she had cracked bleeding nipples for 2 weeks and both her mom and her brother were always crying. Can you imagine how that experience, that imagery would stay in the mind of a young 14 yr old girl and impress her own feelings about breastfeeding? I’m sure! This had probably happened to many girls in America.

Through out the wedding plans and the actual wedding, Sadie and I were just fine. I was loving getting to know my new daughter-in-law.  I wanted to be a good mother-in-law and not interfere at all unless they wanted help or advice. Life was good. I let them alone and we enjoyed great visits/ great times.

Then Sadie got pregnant.

SO EXCITING!!! Now we have entered into my realm of expertise. I couldn’t help but ask some pregnancy health questions, feeding questions. I didn’t go crazy- believe me. She was open and sharing. I wanted to know a couple things every once in a while after she came from the doctor. I was wanting to have a feeding discussion with her so when the opportunity arose, I seized it. I was so thrilled that she told me she was going to breastfeed!!! I encouraged her to get some knowledge in ahead of time, like maybe a class or a book. I also said I’d be available to help or do whatever she needed. That may have been the last we spoke of it. At least while she was pregnant.

Our relationship then went straight downhill and it had nothing to do with breastfeeding! I had heard from the happy couple that they were going to have a boy according to the ultrasound. I was thrilled! So excited! I congratulated my son and later in the conversation mentioned to him that it is pretty good but not 100% accurate and that occasionally the U/S can be wrong…. I said this to protect them from possible disappointment. They both said they knew that and things were fine. We then had a case at my hospital where the baby was not the sex predicted by ultrasound! Like a stupid jerk, I immediately told both my son and Sadie. The reaction from Sadie was harsh to say the least. I got a long email from her stating that they had discussed it and they want me to be only a grandmother and not a nurse for any future communications! OK then. I had obviously overstepped! I needed to pull way way back. I was very hurt though. I had tried so hard NOT to be in her space. I deliberately tried to wait for information instead of seeking it out.  But I screwed up. I did. Now I felt like I couldn’t say anything…. EVER…. about pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding….. my life, my work–stuff I knew a lot about! This sucked!

So I kept quiet. I didn’t let her know I was bothered. I tried to just talk like a grandma. What the hell do they ask anyway? Does a grandma ask how do you feel? Does a grandma ask if you are feeling the baby move? Does a grandma ask how your blood pressure is? What the doctor says? Or does she just ask about the names, colors of the baby’s room and stuff like that? How was I supposed to know? I asked “nursey” type questions to any pregnant friend of mine so I don’t really know differently!! The pregnancy continued and I got very little information. Only what they told me…I kept being happy and cheerful. I was a little sad inside but I couldn’t let her see that. It wasn’t about me. She was the pregnant mother– not me!!!!  One time I asked if it would be alright to get a call that labor started so I could drive the 2 hours to the hospital. I wanted to know if it was alright to be in the waiting room. Sadie said “Of course! Why would I even ask that??? I’m the grandmother for crying out loud!” (Oh…that’s what we grandmothers do) YAY!

I got a call from my son Dave one Friday afternoon while I was at work. He was animated and excited and proudly told me that Sadie was going to be induced on Monday! (She was 37 weeks as of today and would be 37 3/7 on Monday). I immediately thought something was wrong. I started asking if the baby was OK, her fluid levels, her BP etc… “Yes relax yes everything is just fine mom!” I said “Well- why do they want to induce her?” Dave said “Because he’s cool, he likes us, and I cut his grass.”      *** ARE YOU F-&$%*& Kidding ME???? ***** is what I’m thinking.  Out loud… I said: “Oh Honey, all the experts frown on inducing this early if there’s no medical need. Please talk about it some more and find out some of the risks.”…… “There are no risks Mom, I trust him. He knows what he’s doing.”. Later I get another phone call from my son where he told me he did not appreciate that I couldn’t be happy when he was telling me good news.  I just said I was only wanting to make sure he made smart decisions now that he’s going to be a parent etc and just tell me when and I will be there. I had to shut up.      What would you do? Would you say more????

The next day, Saturday, he called and told me the doctors moved it up a week. A week from Monday. Who knows why—I’ll never find out. At least she’ll be 38 3/7 weeks. The baby had other ideas. Sadie went into strong labor one day before her scheduled induction. Her labor was not long for a primip at all. A total of 8 hours. 45min of pushing. She had an epidural. Just Dave and Sadie in the room. The waiting room was filled with her family and myself and my daughter. I was told by the other grandma that the baby had already been to breast!! YAY! I was invited back to the room to meet the baby and it was a wonderful moment. I didn’t ask any questions just commented on how good Sadie looked and how good the baby looked. I think I was afraid to do anything except smile.. I was very happy and everything looked good.

Later in the room, there was a bottle of Similac in his bassinet. The room was filled with visitors. Sadie asked me if I could feed him. I only asked when he ate last. She said it had been hours and she couldn’t get him to eat. I sat down with my new grandson and started to work on feeding him. That’s exactly what it was. Work. He had some kind of disorganized sucking pattern. He seemed to have a weakness on one side of his mouth and didn’t form a seal well on the nipple. I have seen a lot of this before and have worked with both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding babies who present this way. I was able to get him to take 15 ml and he went to sleep. Sadie and Dave were relieved. The next morning, I came to the hospital with some outfits etc… As soon as I arrived, Dave wanted to go have brunch with me. The baby was alone with Sadie.  🙂  During the meal I asked him about being a new dad etc.. and I asked him how well the baby was feeding. He was difficult to feed most feedings and Sadie was feeling upset. I asked him if she was still interested in breastfeeding and he said “I don’t think so mom. I don’t think so.” SO at least I knew. I had been afraid to ask because of the history and I wanted to be offering the correct information if they asked me feeding questions. I wasn’t upset. I really wasn’t. I wanted Sadie to be comfortable and happy with her decisions. I didn’t want her to feel at all “pressured” by me or my line of work.

I started to think of how I could help Sadie the most. I began to show her ways to support the baby’s mouth on the nipple and techniques to improve the suck. Dave and Sadie initially began to rely on me for feeding help while I kept encouraging them each independently. They got the hang of it. The baby got the hang of it. My little grandson started growing. I drove down to their home for babysitting when Sadie had to go back to work. She used all available relatives to avoid daycare and we were all happy to help. When she came home from work, she’d always politely invite me to stay for dinner. I figured she didn’t need me around at all, she needed to reconnect with her baby. I would leave once she got home. When I’d babysit.. she’d leave me a list in the morning, I’d do as much as I could and document for her what her little baby did while she was at work.  He still had feeding issues… but they weren’t difficult if you knew what to do. Most often, I never even saw my son. Just the baby. One time Sadie told me I was the only one who did things the way she wanted.  Can you believe that??? I was beaming inside. Her own family wouldn’t try to get food in him, they would say “He won’t take it!” “He’s fine Sadie.. when he’s hungry he’ll eat.” They interjected their own 2 cents and felt comfortable doing and saying things to her as they had all her life. I would never be able to talk to her that way.

So she thanked me. Thanked me for hanging in there. Thanked me for doing what she asked. Thanked me for respecting her requests.

Thanked me for being such a good grandma!  ;-

 See also: Part One and A Half  Then:  Part II  … The next pregnancy and baby

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47 Comments Post a comment
  1. OMG. i am hooked on your story!! i must know what comes next!!

    June 3, 2011
  2. wow – this is something i never even considered! as a ma of a son who is still co-sleeping and nursing on demand at 19 mo, i don’t even know how i would advise a DIL who wanted to do things differently! thank you for this post!

    June 3, 2011
  3. This post proves what a wonderful mom and grandma you are. At the end of the day it would never be worth not being able to be around your precious grandbaby to step on your son & Sadie’s toes….yet I don’t know what I would do in your position. I would be tremendously hurt and disappointed. Sadie is so lucky to have a MIL who is so supportive.

    June 3, 2011
  4. Nancy #

    I had a similar situation. It killed me when my DIL did not breastfeed. She said she wanted to but she gave up after a few tries. I did not push but gently suggested some help. She refused and I just had to learn to keep my mouth shut and live with it. On her second baby pretty much similar results. She is now pregnant with her 3rd and seems very eager to make it work this time. So you never know.

    June 3, 2011
  5. This is something I never thought about (and shouldn’t have to yet considering my little girls are only 8 months and 5 years old), but this does play into my role as a new doula. I need to figure out how to not let my personal feelings get in the way. You’re amazingly supportive and I wish all family members would be like that! My grandma has scoffed at the fact that I’m still breastfeeding my 8 month (almost 9 month) old. I roll my eyes over the phone because that’s not what I need…I struggled with breastfeeding my first daughter (and only did for 3 months) and I want support, not to be scoffed at. You’re doing great!

    June 3, 2011
  6. Adrienne #

    As the daughter-in-law to an overbearing mother, parts of this post were great to me, and other parts were a little unnerving. I think that so often the husband’s mother believes herself to have a role in her son’s marriage and raising her grandchildren. Unless expressly asked otherwise, it’s simply not the case. I know that mother’s-in-law want to be involved, but it’s important to remember that the new mom’s opinions and feelings are just as valid as any of yours ever were. She said she didn’t ever want to breastfeed, and regardless of your line of work, it should have been left there. If a daughter-in-law wants to have those discussions with you, she will.

    When in doubt, say nothing.

    June 3, 2011
    • StorkStories #

      Adrienne~ I am sure there were times when Sadie felt I was overbearing even though I didn’t see it like that. I truly value each individuals feelings and only had the best interests in mind. However, I had to step back and look at things from their point of view. One point I realize that I failed to mention was that Dave also had discussed breastfeeding with Sadie and as the father had wanted that for his child. He was never pushy. I was never pushy. Thank you so much! I appreciate your perspective. It took me a while to gain the wisdom to keep quiet about some things. 😉

      June 3, 2011
      • Adrienne #

        I do appreciate that you were willing to step back and allow her to make her own decision. When it comes down to it, it was all her choice. No matter how much the husband wants it, or the mother-in-law, or the sister, or whoever thinks they’re involved, it’s about the woman’s body and her well-being. I was not able, despite my best efforts, to nurse my first baby, (Breast hypoplasia. Fantastic.) and the pressure from my mother-in-law to breastfeed was so intense that I felt like I had to hide my little guy’s bottles from her. I already felt like a failure for not being able to give my child the feeding experience we’d always intended him to have, and her negative input just made things worse.

        I know that breast milk is best for babies, but I think so many women fail to realize that for each family, breastfeeding may not be the best option. A starving child, a distressed mother, isolation for those who are already struggling with postpartum depression, and many other factors make it so that for some people it simply will not work. In some circumstances the stress on the entire family warrants the use of bottles-for the well-being of everyone. People do the best they can. A happy mother makes a happy family.

        June 3, 2011
      • StorkStories #

        Oh Adrienne! I’m so sorry you went through all that! NOBODY should ever have to feel like you did. That is just awful. I can only hope that this helps another soul to be kind and supportive of any mother they encounter… no matter what her choices! Thank you for sharing with me. ((Hugs)) You sound like a great mom!!!

        June 3, 2011
    • Lisa #

      @Adrienne – I went through the same experience completely. I tried so hard at the hospital and the nurses kept reassuring me that my supply would come in on the 3rd day. I so believed them and kept trying. I even accidentally overheard one nurse talking to another about how she knew that I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed. That stressed me out, but I was determined that she was wrong. We had begun to give him formula at the hospital and mix in it what I pumped in between feedings. He would latch on fine, but he never seemed like he was getting anything. And he would scream and scream. He was a large baby, and still is. He would cry so much and never sleep, then finally we met with the hospital pediatrician on our 3rd day (we were kept 4 for his low blood sugar when he was born) and it was like god sent him. He said to feed him as much formula as he needed, to stop measuring it like a nurse told us, and it worked. The baby was finally happy and he slept. We tried and tried breastfeeding, but after a month of only producing enough to barely skim the bottom of a bottle after each pumping session, spending lots of money on expensive pumps and solutions, and crying every 2 hours when I pumped or had him latched, while having him scream because I wasn’t producing anything, I stopped. I had never even engorged. I never had to buy a larger bra during or after my pregnancy, and still wear the same size from college. I have no idea that feeling that I heard all about, about your breasts hurting so much and having to feed or pump to relieve it. I’m sad that I wasn’t able to experience that, during that time, it broke my heart to think of the experience I lost. I enjoyed every second of my pregnancy. I was pumping or feeding every 2 to 3 hours and it never happened. I couldn’t take feeling so depressed when I was suppose to be nurturing my son during what was suppose to be the happiest and most memorable time of our lives. Its still heartbreaking when someone says something about ‘formula’ babies to me. I enjoyed being apart of so many social networking groups while I was pregnant, then had to delete them all while I was trying to breastfeed because I felt so overwhelmed and pushed by their forward suggestions and remarks. An older woman at a neighborhood holiday party, that we dropped in on for just a second the night before Christmas, rudely commented about my, and so many women’s, choice to not breastfeed, when she saw his bottle. I didn’t explain, I had just met her. I wasn’t going to go into our personal business with a stranger. They assume that I didn’t intend to breastfeed and that my choice was heartless, that we did it out of convenience and weren’t trying. There is nothing convenient about depression and stress. But I really do believe that a happy mother is a happy family, and a happy baby is the most important of them all. I wish I could have our first month back. We didn’t even take photos on his first Christmas, because I was so preoccupied with trying to breastfeed and stressed out, that we just forgot. He is a very happy baby, very healthy, and very tall already. I enjoy every day I spend with him and I know that I am giving him everything he needs and wants. I love watching him feed from his bottle and it is such an amazing bonding time for us. I love that he laughs and smiles all day long, you would think that is all Ive taught him to do to date, he just never stops. When we have our next child, Ill be better prepared to seek more information from the doctors before and during my pregnancy. I’m not going to just assume that I will be able to breastfeed. But I’m also going to give myself a break if it doesn’t happen for me again. And maybe I will have then learned to speak up to opinionated people who have to give me their two cents, regardless of me not asking. This was a great article. It made me cry. Now I understand my mother in law better. (she was kind of the same, but I just always nodded and didn’t share with her what I was going through emotionally with not being able to produce, all the while she pushed me to breastfeed and not feed him as much as I was.) But I know she sees him today and sees how wonderful and healthy he is and has been. And how how tall he already is. I know I said that, but he is. : ) I know she loves him as much as I do and she only means the best. I know I will someday when I’m a grandmother. 🙂

      June 4, 2011
  7. Megan #

    Thanks for this post, I understand what you mean. I don’t have a daughter in law, but I have a hard time when friends who know I’m a midwife ask me for advice/ideas or just generally mention in a group of friends that they wonder…… this and that….. I don’t want to throw tons and tons of information at them, but I also want to be helpful and supportive. I have had friends tell me after their births that they felt ignored because its is my field of expertise and they were counting on me for help, and I seemed distant, and other friends who felt like I gave to much info. Still others have wanted to ask, but didn’t want me to feel like I had to treat them for free. It has become my token ‘statement’ to all of my friends and sisters and SIL’s that if they want or need me I am here for them 24/7, and those nearby I am happy to be their practitioner (well within treatment laws for family) but if they want me to shut up and go away I won’t be offended either. Although – I remind them I have a really cool doppler and in exchange for a good conversation and a cup of coffee in their kitchen I will bring it by for them or their kids/families to listen. (Especially helpful when their parents/in-laws want to be involved and feel ‘apart of things’ but not everyone really needs to go to the appointments.)

    June 3, 2011
  8. What a great insight into the behind-the-scenes of being a grandma. I know my mom was afraid of saying anything about feeding to me when pregnant. Can only imagine my MIL was even more afraid! It’s tough on the paternal grandmother I think. The maternal gets so much more of a look in! Great that it has worked out nicely for you all : ) When my time comes I think I’ll be a hopeless grandma…

    June 3, 2011
  9. I am loving this post. One day I will be in this situation and will need to know how to support my DIL in HER choices.

    June 3, 2011
  10. Susan Peterson #

    This is one of my fears. All of my daughters who have children (3) have nursed them without any difficulty to a reasonable age. (2 or so I think,) I never doubted that they would. But I also have 5 sons. So far none of them are fathers. But I have thought about how I would feel if I had a daughter in law who bottle fed my grandchild right from birth. I feel so negatively about this. If I see someone giving a tiny baby a bottle, I have to turn away and not go over and admire it, it upsets me so much. How will I feel if this is my grandchild? I know it will keep me from feeling close to them, at least as infants. And I think it would destroy any chance of a close relationship with a daughter in law.

    I think it is amazing that you were able to overcome this. I guess you are a bigger woman than I am. And if the next baby story turns out that she nursed that one, I guess it proves that what you did was right. Maybe I should be schooling myself in this to get ready for if it happens. After all, neither my husband nor I were breastfed at all, and we have still enjoyed our lives and been fairly healthy. (One of the reasons why my mother didn’t was that she saw her mother fail at nursing her sister when she was 14, even though she had earlier nursed 3 babies. It was a case of hospital induced nipple confusion;the other 3 had been born at home.)

    Thanks for this. You have set me thinking about how NOT to act and may have averted a future relational disaster.

    June 3, 2011
    • StorkStories #

      Thanks Susan. I understand what you are saying… but I feel that the incredible love for your grandchild will totally outweigh the feeding issues. Trust that.
      Age 14 is a bad impressionable age to be negatively influenced. I understood that for Sadie and I wanted to support her in whatever she chose.

      June 3, 2011
  11. Hayley #

    Oh my can I just adopt you as a mom!! My mother wasn’t able the BF and my MIL did but doesn’t remember everything about the experience and tries her hardest to give me advice and I’m the only one in my immediate family that does BF, I am just the type of person that wants to be armed with plenty of information before making choices, I never thought I would BF when I was younger but it is the best decision I ever made, I just wish that I had a different resource other than google to help me out when I have questions! I’ve never thought of moms stepping in too much and I actually was shocked by the lack of utilization of your skills by your DIL and son, but I guess I could understand their perspective, they wanted to be independent parents and do things their way and I’m sure having a parent in the nursing profession could be a little difficult… I am really loving this story and can’t wait to read more. Thanks!!

    June 4, 2011
    • StorkStories #

      I am indeed adoptable! haha I am sorry that your support system is so limited. If i can ever help I will try. (online help is limited too but we can all stick together right?)

      June 4, 2011
    • Ash #

      Look up leleche league….good online support and you can search for local support groups best of luck.

      August 20, 2011
  12. VW #

    It’s hard enough for me to hold my tongue with friends and non-blood relatives…can’t imagine what it must have taken you!

    Technical question: why feed a newborn 15mL of formula when their stomach capacity is 5-7?

    June 4, 2011
    • StorkStories #

      Good question. 7mls would have been totally adequate. I can’t exactly say why.. It may have been that the baby was getting organized on and off.. I don’t remember now.

      June 4, 2011
  13. Thank you for your story.

    I have absolutely worried about this possibility before. I have 3 children, 2 of them boys. I have already said (more than once) to my 8 year old that he is only allowed to date girls that plan to breastfeed!

    On the other hand, my own mother-in-law did not breastfeed and it took her a lot to get used to the way I fed my babies. She wanted to help feed, she wanted to keep them on schedules. Every time I took one of my babies back even though they “just ate” she had to bite her tongue.

    Three babies later she and my father-in-law stay in the room and even continue talking to me (with eye contact) when I nurse my baby. We have had the opportunity to candidly talk about why she chose not to breastfeed and that my choice is not a criticism of her parenting. She even refers women in her community to talk with me if they are having difficulty breastfeeding.

    Still, the idea of my own grand babies not being breastfed sickens me.

    June 4, 2011
    • StorkStories #

      That’s a great story too! Good for you to have that support now and offer your wisdom on to others.

      June 4, 2011
  14. Melissa #

    God BLESS you for being the good MIL and Grandma! We had the first (and perhaps only) grandchild for both sides of the family. My MIL went from someone I had weekly lunch with to a woman I couldn’t stand. She didn’t like the name. She wanted to touch the belly (I have a thing about being touched in general–be glad I even got preggers, you know?). Then she kept talking about how she would just “take” the baby. She needed her own carseat, she needed to know where the daycare would be so she could come by and get her unannounced. Both husband and I freaked. We had to distance ourselves completely. My mom was a blessing–she and I hadn’t always been close, either, and she started to get a little like you were at the beginning, but she then realized that I was the mommy now, so I could make decisions. So, she flipped and supported the cloth diapers, the breast feeding (which failed, because I’d had reduction surgery at 22). And she sat and cried with me when I felt like a failure and had to go out and buy formula. MIL never took the cues–it was gross that I was trying to BF, then when I couldn’t, it was a shame because the baby wouldn’t be as healthy. We still have to reign MIL in. It could be 80 degrees out but the 6 month old isn’t in socks. It’s a travesty we haven’t bought her shoes. A good mom would have socks on her at all time. I’m not even kidding. LUCKILY, Husband hears what I’m hearing and takes it about the same way. Well, he doesn’t cry like I do… but he does report to his father that I spent an hour crying after a family member’s baby shower because I was lectured the whole time on not doing things “right”… uhg. YOU are amazing. You respected the new parents, understanding that your new role is helping them! Not parenting their child. It always makes me happy to see these stories–I think MILs forget that they aren’t the mom of the mom–which makes everything harder. But the best grandparents I’ve seen are the ones who listen, the ones who support, and the ones who don’t question, but will help FIND answers when you start asking.

    June 4, 2011
    • StorkStories #

      Thank you! This sounds like my first MIL haha.. freaky indeed.

      June 4, 2011
  15. Hannah #

    So sad that other influences got to your daughter-in-law before and more strongly than you were able to. You are a good grandma, though, with lots of self-control. You did the right thing.

    I have these same feelings when close friends ignore the bits of information or offers of help that I try to gently make available. I’m sure it’s even harder with family.

    June 4, 2011
    • StorkStories #

      Yes it is hard but getting to accept it..enjoy empowering the mother is great reward!…and Thank you!

      June 4, 2011
  16. All of this stuff is so much harder when there are family relationships involved. I know that in my own role as a breastfeeding support person, it’s far easier for me to talk to someone that I don’t have a previous relationship with, than someone that I have close personal ties to. If I inadvertently put my foot in my mouth with a stranger (which I certainly try to avoid, but sometimes miscommunication happens) I don’t have that hanging over my head at every family dinner for the rest of my life.

    And as for my own son, I have thought about this, but as he’s still only 2 1/2 himself, most days I’m more concerned with keeping him from jumping out of windows. 😉

    June 4, 2011
    • StorkStories #

      HAHA you always crack me up! And you are right.. people I know or family does make some things such as this more delicate

      June 4, 2011
  17. Jill #

    Susan Peterson – I was really digging this discussion until you said

    “If I see someone giving a tiny baby a bottle, I have to turn away and not go over and admire it, it upsets me so much”

    Please keep in mind some people that are feeding their tiny baby with a bottle cannot breastfeed because of reasons you may not know. I was on anti-seizure medication for 8 weeks after my son was born and he had to be bottle fed. When you make comments like the above, it takes me back to the dirty looks and comments I received when he was tiny and I had no choice.

    Try to give the benefit of the doubt and keep an open mind. That comment really upset me 😦

    June 5, 2011
    • Susan Peterson #

      That could be true, although on the whole that isn’t the reason in most cases. I have no desire to hurt anyone for whom it is true. And I am not sure where the strength of my gut feeling about this comes from. I have wondered if it has something to do both with not having been nursed myself, and with my own mother’s lack of warmth. She was the sort of person who said baby smiles were just gas. She was extremely conscientious about making the formula sterile and rewhiting baby shoes several times a day, but I don’t believe she fell in love with any baby until she helped my sister take care of her daughter right after she was born. Suddenly she knew the baby was really smiling. I had a dream once about being a baby, and in the dream my father was going to stay home with me and my mother go to work.(of course in the 50’s what happened was the opposite of this, but I don’t think my mother was really happy about it.) I think this comes from the fact that he was the more warm and loving parent. Later I had much conflict with him and my mother was a better parent for a teen ager. But she just didn’t have that baby-love.

      So am guessing my feeling about bottles is connected with a very early feeling of -not quite rejection, but a lack of bonding and warmth, with my own mother. Which means it comes from very deep down places and hits me before I can even think. It may have been joined to some more conscious breastfeeding fanaticism but I don’t think that is strong enough in me to produce the reaction I feel. I don’t think it primarily comes from judgement of people.

      Going through these thoughts will at least put me on my guard about expressing my reactions …well, unguardedly.

      Susan Peterson

      June 5, 2011
    • Adrienne #

      I had the same feeling when I read that comment. As if I don’t have to read that I’m a failure each and every time I go to prepare a bottle and the can of formula reminds me that what I’m feeding my child isn’t best for him. I spent my entire pregnancy religiously doing the best things I could for my sweet baby, and then it felt as if when he was born, I instantly wasn’t able. To top it off, dirty looks, snarky comments, and completely unhelpful advice made me feel even worse. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business what a mother’s reason for not breastfeeding is. There’s a lot of great information out there, but some parts of the “Lactivist Movement” are dangerously closed-minded.

      June 5, 2011
  18. Mama of 2 #

    Oh my gosh. I was CRYING when I read this. Let me tell you, I WISH I had you for a mother in law. Seriously.
    When my son was born I had a terrible time breastfeeding, and it got so frustrating for ME that I had to stop. For the next two months I was judged and criticized by my MIL. Everytime he would sniffle or be fussy she would make a snarky comment “Well if you breastfed this wouldn’t happen” It got to the point where I HAD to defend myself. I hated that. She is only allowed occasional visits now, and I have no relationship with her at all because of the last hurtful breastfeeding comment she made (and this was over 3 years ago) When my guy was just 6 months old she swung by for a visit. He was happily playing on the floor, while I was making him a bottle and she was talking to him and said ” Your mommy doesn’t love you very much does she? Or else she would have breastfed you” . It took everything I had to not lunge at her and freak out. I told her to leave, and she is not ever welcome here again. My other half talks to her all the time, and he informs me that it still isn’t time for her to see the kids on a regular basis yet, because she is STILL making rude comments to him about how I raise our kids.
    Thankfully I have my mom for support, and she is awesome, but she splits her time between 13 grandkids, lol 🙂

    June 5, 2011
    • Susan Peterson #

      Your mother doesn’t love you very much? Oh my goodness. I promise I would never dream of saying anything like that. That is self righteousness and love of one’s own ideas over love of people. I am sorry.
      Susan Peterson

      June 5, 2011
    • Terry Rawlinson #

      Oh My Goodness, You have done the right thing by keeping her away from your family, she needs to keep quiet, A gramma’s job is to continue the plan the parents have laid out!! NOT to undermine the momma’s love!! Dang, I would have slapped her silly! I was only able to breast feed my youngest and then only for a few months as i had bleeding breasts and 30 yrs ago the Dr said to just stop. I know better now! You are doing what works for you and that should be it!! ((HUG))

      June 6, 2011
  19. It was very brave of Sadie and Dave to communicate their boundaries to you. Especially if this was their first baby.

    Thank you for sharing!

    June 5, 2011
  20. Thank you so much for this story.

    I have two sons and even though it will, hopefully, be years before they become fathers, it never once occurred to me that they might choose partners who do not wish to breastfeed. Of course I SHOULD know how a future Daughter In Law might react to my helpful advice. I spend so much time with clients whose Mother In Laws do that and I know how often it is misinterpreted or plain unwanted.

    I will hold your story in my heart so that when my time comes I will have learnt from your mistake and your wisdom.

    Many thanks.

    Mars xx

    June 5, 2011
  21. Gwen #

    Brilliant post!

    June 5, 2011
  22. This is so interesting to me. Even though my oldest is only four, I’ve been wondering lately what I might do if one of my children grow up to not breastfeed, or do sleep training, etc. It does scare me, but you are so right. It wouldn’t do any good to butt in, it would just distance you from them. We’ve made lots of choices that are totally different from what our families have done, and any comments other than supportive ones have only hurt my feelings. I think sometimes they only mean to inform, but we read about and thoroughly discuss any decision we make, so usually this is just unnecessary.

    I do think you were right to mention that there were risks of inducing so early to your son though. I don’t think I could keep my mouth shut about that one. Off to read the next part…

    June 5, 2011
  23. Lydia #

    What a wonderful article to read.

    I think my own mother felt similar and was very careful with what she would say (I did and still am breastfeeding so it wasn’t about that, it’s just my first baby was not easy and with the severe sleep deprivation, I didn’t appreciate advice that went against how I wanted to look after my baby).

    Eventually she started to see I was having a hard time and tried to help me rather than change the situation. I’m sure she still holds her tongue and pops advice out occasionally but with a bit more sleep I can hold a decent conversation rather than lashing out.

    However, I in no way ever wanted to make my mum feel sad, hurt or like she didn’t belong in our lives. But she did & I hate that.

    June 5, 2011
  24. thank you for sharing and you are truly a great MIL and grandma!

    June 5, 2011
  25. This is an amazing story. I will have to come back to this if ever (crossing fingers it won’t) happens to me. I have two boys!!!

    June 5, 2011
  26. Great story! We need more breastfeeding advocates like you–supportive no matter what! Breastfeeding can be so difficult and my mom is the only reason I was successful at it with my son. Looking forward to part 2.

    June 5, 2011
  27. Terry Rawlinson #

    Excellent! Love your story & love you for knowing when to have a hot steamy cup of shut up! ((HUGS)) to you and your grandchildren!

    June 6, 2011
  28. Annie #

    Thanks for this. My daughter in law isn’t breastfeeding. She had wanted to, but the baby didn’t seem interested, so she used the bottle, at first to supplement and then she gave up after a day or two. Her mother breastfeed 4 children and my niece (her close friend) has a baby she breastfeed, despite having difficulties, so I thought she would try longer to overcome the difficulties, One of the reason I am upset is because we have severe allergies in our family. My son is the only one who didn’t have a problem and he never had any formula. I did tell them before the baby was born about the allergies and the symptoms in a newborn so that they would know and watch for the symptoms. I will see them this week and I will probably be given a bottle to feed him and I will do everything I can to not give off any vibes. This article helps.

    September 9, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Supporting my Non-Breastfeeding Daughter-In-Law … Part I (via StorkStories…..) « The Adventures of Natasha and Nate
  2. Supporting my Non-Breastfeeding Daughter-In-Law … Part II | StorkStories…..
  3. PEER Counseling is Unparalleled Breastfeeding Support–> Do You Have a Great Story? | StorkStories.....

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