Tuesday, August 9, 2011

You Know What They Say When You Assume

Today the girls and I went to Costco to get our tire fixed.  We had an hour to kill so we walked around checking out the samples and watching bits of Tangled on a $3000, 60" flat screen TV.  Amazingly, I ended up with just 3 things in my cart:  a container of blueberries, some blue agave and a can of baby formula.  As I was putting my things on the checkout counter, the woman standing in back of me said to her friend (in a voice loud enough for me to hear), "I don't understand how a mom can feed her baby formula."  I looked up, a bit pissed off shocked, but she turned away, shaking her head, as though she was disgusted.

Ah yes, what was my initial reaction?  Well, if you must know, I wanted to punch her in the face.  Lucky for her both my hands are inflamed and throbbing today so that wouldn't have worked out well for either of us.  Plus, getting arrested for assault at Costco is a bit trashy (just kidding - sort of).  Anyway, I managed to put a smile on my face, pay for my poison and leave without incident.  I did not open my mouth, even to talk to the cashier, for fear of what might spew out.

If I did open my mouth, it may have sounded a little something like this...

Look, lady, not like it's any of your business but if you knew me you would know that I nursed my baby everyday for the first 5 months of her life, even though my back was throbbing and my arms could barely hold her.  I nursed her even though the doctors told me to stop so they could treat my pain.  I nursed her until the day I was admitted into the hospital because the doctors thought I had cancer.  While I was in the hospital I pumped every 4 hours, around the clock, and dumped my milk because I was on too much medication to keep it.  I pumped in between CT scans, blood tests, biopsies and oncologist visits.  I pumped in the middle of the night while everyone else was sleeping.   Ya, if you knew me, you would know that I continued to pump for another 2 months, sometimes feeding her, sometimes dumping it, depending on what kind of medication I was on.  I pumped until the day there was nothing left to pump.  And then, then I cried.  I cried because it didn't end on my terms.  That was not my plan.  But you don't know me, so you don't know any of this.  But that's why I feed my baby formula.  Do you have a problem with that?

Hmmm, I wonder what she would have said then?

Well, this post is not really about her, although she definitely inspired it.  This post is about what we see, and don't see, when we look at another person.

It's easy to judge.  I do it.  You do it.  I guess it's part of human nature - to look at someone and put them in some sort of box.  We assume circumstances.  We label. We shake our heads because we would never do such a thing.

Well, the truth is... what we see is always just the tip of the iceberg.  We don't see the hurt, the sickness, the pain, the abuse, the struggles. I mean, obviously we don't see it, or we wouldn't be so quick to judge.  Right? 

Today was good for me.  It reminded me not to be so quick to point out the speck in someone else's eye, when there's a plank in my own.  It reminded me that what you see on the outside often doesn't reflect what's going on on the inside. Everyone has a story.  Don't assume you know what it is.  Either take the time to get to know it, or keep your comments to yourself.

A Proud Formula-Feeding Mama,


  1. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I know how personal those decisions are.

    I have to say, I am impressed by your take-away from this. Great attitude.

  2. All I can say is... WOW!!! I love that you open my eyes to so much. Your strength physically and mentally is unreal! At this point in my life I wouldn't have hit her (cause I wouldn't want to go to jail either). But, I would have said some choice words to her. I don't think I would have the strength to hold it in. Your blog always gives me a reality check. Love all of your words of wisdom and you... <3

  3. Great post Kim. Great lessons. From what I hear you are in "Hippieville", OR! I honestly could not have bit my tongue. I don't know that I would have tried to explain I probably would have just chosen some very unpastorly words for her followed with "YOU DON'T KNOW US!" Whoa! I just played out the scenario in my head and got really angry! haha. My wife could not nurse more than a month with our first mainly because of medical reasons and she is being challenged with our second one too. She wrestles so much with the guilt that she gets from hearing what the Ped says, other people say, and ESPECIALLY the "Nazi Nursing Mom" sites that she visits online. Funny how they make it look so easy and never tell you about the challenges and obstacles that require difficult choices in your baby's care. You are a great mom!

  4. Thanks for posting this. I was just literally crying to my husband today about how bad and guilty I feel that I was unable to breastfeed my son successfully. He saw what I went through and how hard I tried. I had planned to nurse him exclusively and had every lactation consultant in the hospital helping me while we were there. I thought we were doing fine.

    When he was a week old, however, we had to take him back in to the hospital for dehydration. He had been crying almost nonstop for about a day and a half and we knew something was wrong. I started wondering if it might be hunger and in desperation I opened a sample can of formula I had received in the mail and fed him a couple of ounces. He finally stopped crying! When we took him in to the hospital, they told us he had lost quite a bit of weight and was dehydrated.

    We realized that he wasn't getting enough milk, so they told us to supplement with formula and advised us to rent a hospital pump to boost my supply. I did this for a month, but it never increased. I've had surgeries in both breasts for benign tumors and an abscess which required some tissue removal, so my doctor said it's likely that my glands were damaged as a result. Each time I pumped, I would get less than one ounce total. I became very depressed and the whole situation was taking a huge toll on my sanity. I was so stressed out and frustrated that I wasn't really enjoying my baby, so we decided that for both the baby's sake and my own it would be best to just do formula. I still feel guilty though and am, quite frankly, still sad and bitter about it. I envy other women who are able to do it and feel like I've missed out on something important. I'm also not comfortable feeding him formula in public because I'm convinced I will get these looks of disgust from women like this lady you encountered. It's really sad that people like her can be so unsympathetic and judgmental toward fellow moms without knowing their circumstances.

    So I ask these people, what are women in our position supposed to do? Let our babies starve to death? I guarantee that if these women heard their baby crying like my son did they too would be rushing to open up that can of formula!

  5. I see today you're making chocolate milk instead of mere lemonade. I just got word from Jed that you appreciate my comments. Well, maybe not today's. Anyway, read further with the knowledge that you are my dear friend's wife and therefore my friend.

    Preface now over: here goes: I think we can all agree that holding your tongue (and your fists) puts you further down the road to Sainthood. And I think your intellectual conclusions indicate that your brain rules. Now, can you go a step further and allow your heart to do it's work? I'm no pastor (God knows that) but I'm thinking that at some point, forgiveness should be making its appearance. Can you pray for her as well as yourself? Can you ask God not to ever put that woman in a situation that prevents her from breastfeeding her baby? I sure don't blame you if you can't do it today. Tomorrow maybe? The day after? Can?

    Today, as always, I'll pray for you and yours. I'll pray for all of us.

    Jed's and Kim's Friend (right?)

  6. Friend:

    Touche. Thank you for your honesty. I LOVE it!! I just posted this note on Facebook:

    Apparently my last blog post struck a chord. Just want to clarify something. My anger was gone before the lady at the door ran her sharpie through my receipt. Here's why: I have no time or energy to hold on to BS. My body flares up enough on it's own, I don't need anger to fuel the fire. Yes, it infuriated me, but then I reflected on if I ever made someone else feel that way - judged, for whatever reason. I thought about how I want to teach my girls to always be compassionate and look beyond the surface. I wish that woman no harm, only wisdom, for her own sake. Thanks for caring everyone.

    So yes, I can forgive her today. :)

    Thank you, Thank you!


  7. Rob:

    Thinking of you on your first day at the new job. Go get um, girl! :)


  8. Veronica:

    I'm so sorry things didn't work out the way you planned. I understand the heartache (and bitterness) over something out of your control. All I can say is grieve it, then move on. We have 10,000,000,000 other things we're going to do in our children's lives that will make us the parents we are.

    Thank you for sharing...


  9. J:

    Thanks for having my back. :)
    First of all, tell Emily to get off those crazy BF sites. I know them all. I would go there to torture myself. They mean well, but it doesn't do us any good when we're struggling with it. Anyway, all I have to say is NO GUILT. None! Focus on the million other things that you're doing to love that baby, then move on.

    Love you guys,

  10. Kim, this post made me cry ... and find that lady and punch her in the face for you :)

    You are such a trooper! So great hanging out today. Safe travels and we'll see you when you return from your REAL vacation!