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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Purportedly Supported

*** If anybody still reads this shit: I'm really going to get it for this post. I can taste it. And it tastes strangely like breastmilk. ***

So, my wife is doing the best possible thing she can be doing to preserve and protect our twins. No, she's not dressing them in identical Osh-Kosh B'Gosh overall outfits and teaching them Spanish. She's breastfeeding, and I couldn't be happier about it.

I don't need to sit here and go over why breastmilk is infinitely superior to formula, or feeding your children shredded cardboard boxes or veal parmigiana or wine-soaked seat upholstery from a 1992 Chevrolet Cavalier. If you don't understand why breastmilk is better for infants than something concocted in a laboratory by balding men with swamp-ass and taint pimples, then there's nothing I can do for you. Leave this blog at once.

(But not before leaving a comment! Apron <3's comments!)

What my wife and I have had to learn through the birth and one-month-ness of our twinners is that doing what's natural isn't always easy. Breastfeeding the children was hard at first-- in the hospital neither would latch particularly well, and feedings were a miserable, stressful experience, especially since our daughter was sick and our son was underweight-- the pressure to get them nutrients was palpable, and it nearly drove us utterly crackers. What I failed to realize was the emotional piece of breastfeeding, that, when a child doesn't latch to its mother, the mother cannot help but feel rejected, and wounded. I was panicked that the children were losing weight, so I put extra pressure on Mrs. Apron to keep at it, and I wasn't as sensitive as I should have been, and, hence, I should be shot and then have the bullet-hole fingered by an agnostic gorilla.

As the weeks went on, though, feedings got easier. Still, Mrs. Apron, seeking resources and information, joined a breastfeeding support group on Facebook. Because she and I are basically joined at the hip while I am home from work caring for the children, I am frequently next to her on the couch while she is on her iPad ($$$$$$$$!!!!!!!) checking out the latest questions and answers from the women belonging to the breastfeeding support group.

And I've got to tell you, after you read enough of that shit, you want to kill yourself.

I have no problem with people who join support groups-- hell, I should probably be in at least eight different ones, but who has the time?-- but, like anything, it can be taken a little too far. Sometimes I feel like groups such as these pray on people's insecurities, their need for validation, or for convivial indignation, or to assuage their fears or to proclaim them to be normal.


We all want to be normal, or we all at least want to think that we're normal. So many of these questions are:

"I do ____________, is that normal?"

"My child does ___________________. Any other ladies had this experience with their kids?"

"My son/daughter used to feed like ___________________, but not s/he only feeds when ________________________ is on the radio and the clothes dryer is on-- is that weird?"

Yes. It is. Move the fuck on.

The worst, though, are the women who ask questions of their peers that should only be directed at medical professionals.

"Does anyone out there know if (insert name of prescription drug) can be excreted in breastmilk?"

"I'm breastfeeding and I'm taking (insert name of prescription drug), is that okay?"

Are you fucking kidding me?

If it's a PRESCRIPTION DRUG, that means that a medical professional PRESCRIBED IT for you. Ask him or her, don't ask random boob-marms on Facebook. Jesus Christ. While you're at it, why don't you ask the gals if that abdominal discomfort you're having means you ought to have your spleen removed?

This is where online "support groups" move from helpful, past irritating, to downright dangerous. It would be fine of everyone out there realized they were unqualified to answer the question and chose to shut up, but of course questions like these get dozens of frequently redundant and specious replies. Inevitably, there's a genius or two that replies, "you should probably ask your doctor, but..."

Groups like this, with inane, endless reply-strings that are endlessly extended by that one last person who just has that one last thing to say, that one nugget of advice that nobody can do without, become no better than online news sites that permit the dregs of society to comment on stories, no better than the online version of "Foxtrot", where readers can compare the antics of Jason and his friend Marcus to their real-life children. The banality never ends and the most important thing about the experience is about giving your two cents, it's not actually about helping anybody.

You might say that female breastfeeding doctors are also members of the support group and can offer advice. Well, that's not their job. Doctors go to med school so that they can work for a hospital or a practice or a clinic and have appointments with people, people that they get to know, people with whose medical histories they become acquainted, people who are seen and evaluated in a clinical setting. Dispensing medical advice through Facebook is a mistake, and these groups are no replacement for directing important medical questions to a medical professional.

A support group should be just that, a place to get support. Maybe comments like,

"I can hear you're having a hard time breastfeeding, it was really challenging for me, too. I hope things get easier for you. They did for me."

That's... support. Recommending pump products, talking about football hold versus cradle carry. Cheering on a mother whose confidence in herself is flagging.

Advice? You heard it here first: stay away from support groups, especially ones that pretend to be one thing and turn into quite another.


  1. Thank you for using the phrase "boob-marms."

    It's nice to have you back to posting, even on an occasional basis. Missed you!

  2. Feh. I was raised on Similac back in the day and ME GROW UP GOOD (twitch,drool).

    Anyway, I was a quick member of an online divorce support group a while back and it was incredibly unsupportive with a lot of one-upmanship and judginess!

    It's very good to see you posting again and I'm glad Mrs. Apron and the Apron-lets are doing well.

  3. Did I tell you congrats? Anyway, thanks for the pic. Keep them coming!

    And I just want to say, thank you, thank you for the "taint pimple" comment. I am always looking for creative adjectives when in a fit of road rage. This will be put to good use. You have accomplished your good deed for the day.


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