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A Point That Many Seem to be Missing...

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I've been doing some thinking this week.

Thinking about the whole weaner-gate incident. Thinking about this blog. Thinking about the movement. I've been reading the lectures, tirades and "educational" posts aimed my way by other self-proclaimed lactivists.

...and I've realized something.

This blog isn't for them.

You see, what I'm hearing is that women are up in arms about my comfort level with the idea of nursing my child long term. They're up in arms about my desire to gently wean using "don't offer, don't refuse." But mostly, they're up in arms at my use of the term "lactivist" when it doesn't match up with their own narrowly defined definition of the word.

And I've realized...I don't care.

I don't mean that to sound as harsh or as callous as it does, because I care about these women. I care about any woman who becomes a mother and strives to do the best they can for their child. I want to see women equipped to breastfeed as long as possible. I want to see an environment where those choices are supported.

But ultimately, I'm not sure that's what MY blog is here for.

I've been sitting here asking myself if I have anything left to give to the breastfeeding community with this blog. When I started The Lactivist, it was the only breastfeeding blog out there. Several more popped up in the next few months, but even a year ago, there were only half a dozen of us. Now? There are quite a few breastfeeding blogs out there. I think that's fantastic! But it left me wondering if my time had come to retire and move on. After all, there were plenty of other people ready to step in and take my place, right?


Then last week's incident showed me something. It showed me that I DO serve a valuable niche and that I DO still have a lot of work to do. That's not to say that many of the new breastfeeding blogs aren't fantastic. They are. But we all have our own styles and our own pet topics and our own way of looking at things. And I think there's still some value to the way I do things.

You see, breastfeeding has long been divided into two camps.

There are the "I'll give it a try and see what happens" and the "YOU MUST BREASTFEED" camps...and there really wasn't much in between.

Without realizing it, I'd been crossing the divide between those camps.

My goal here was to share an honest and open account of nursing a baby and a child. It was to share the advice I couldn't find back when I was an exclusively pumping mom and to share the journey of a woman who had become an ardent breastfeeding supporter without ever having been a nursing mom. Being able to share my experiences over the last fourteen months as I experienced nursing for the first time has been amazing.

Then It Got Ugly

Right now, I'm under attack. I'm under attack by mothers who are upset that I'm not pushing "the party line" of their "Lactivist party." They tell me I should be their poster-mom and should reach every single nursing ideal there is. They tell me it's my job as "The Lactivist" to sit on their pedestal while they check off every achievement on the nursing mom's list of accomplishments. They tell me I owe it to them because they need the support.

Now I hate to be the one to break it to them, but it's not my job to be your poster girl. It's not my job to tow your party line and it's not my job to make you feel good about yourself.

It's my job to advocate breastfeeding and to help mothers equip themselves with the information they need to make it as far as they can. I do that by sharing my experiences in an honest and open manner. I do it by not setting up false expectations. I do it by admitting I'm NOT the perfect mom. I do it by showing that even "The Lactivist" has days where she wants to scream at the idea of her child latching on for their eleventy billionth nursing session. I do it by being "so ready to be done" and yet continuing to nurse until I can gently wean my son. I do it by saying "Holy cow, it was totally worth it!"

Why? Because that's reality for many nursing moms.

The day I stop being honest on this blog is the day I need to close it down. Because the day I stop being honest here is the day I become irrelevant to each and every one of those nursing moms who struggles to do what they know is best for their child while balancing the needs of the rest of their family.

If You're Committed to Child Led Weaning, You Rock! (Even if you don't know it)

If you are a nursing mom who has nursed past two years of age and plans on child-led weaning, you don't NEED me. You may want to have my example, but you don't NEED it. You're already "there." You have already shown more spunk and determination than the greatest majority of nursing moms will EVER manage. You've certainly shown more spunk and determination than I have. That's something to be immensely proud of. It's NOT something to turn into a nice little chip you can attach to your shoulder.

You don't NEED anyone else's approval. Not your friends', not your family's and certainly not mine. You may think you do, but deep down, if you really think about it...you don't. You're strong and you're amazing. And I commend you.

The Internet is a vast place and there are legions of discussion forums these days that will support you. Believe me, I've spent my fair share of time in discussion forums with mothers who nurse well past the toddler years and on up into the early school years. Those communities are out there. If you aren't finding what you think you need here, then go looking for them. They'll welcome you with open arms. They'll fill the void you wanted me to fill.

So who am I here for?

I'm here for the mom who thinks they may want to breastfeed, but isn't sure.

I'm here for the mom who wanted to breastfeed, but wasn't able to.

I'm here for the mom who got kicked out of a restaurant for daring to think her child could enjoy a meal there too.

I'm here for the mom who has found herself EPing and has no idea how to keep going.

I'm here for the mom who thought it was "weird" to nurse a one year old, until her nursling turned one.

(and yes, I'm also here for the mom who thought it was weird to nurse a three year old, until her nursling turned three.)

I'm here for the mom who finds herself with a freezer full of milk her child will never manage to drink and who wants to know about milk donation.

I'm here for the mom who is at her wits end and needs to know it's ok to be frustrated.

I'm here for the mom who wants to keep going, but needs to take care of her family and wants to learn how to gently wean.

I'm here for the father who knows nothing about breastfeeding, but wants to learn to support his wife.

I'm here for the grandmother or grandfather who remembers when breastfeeding was "for poor people and hippies" but did it anyway.

I'm here for the grandmother or grandfather who formula fed and wants to learn how to support their children in a new choice.

I'm here for ANYONE who wants to learn how to promote breastfeeding by educating and uplifting nursing moms.

I'm here for ANYONE who is tired of seeing other mothers be put down for their choices so someone else can feel better about theirs.

I welcome anyone to this blog who wants to be part of a community that's honest and open. One that shares the joys and the pains. That's what I do here. I may not reach your ideals and I may occasionally tick you off. I'm ok with that. Most of my readers are too. If you aren't, then this blog isn't written for you.

And I'm done apologizing for it.

With all that said, I'm done with this topic folks. I'll still be here talking about breastfeeding, weaning, milk donation, lactivism and any number of other issues. I'm happy to carry on the conversation in the comments sections of these posts, but I'm through making posts defending my right to be who I am or trying to explain my position and my reasons to those who clearly have no interest in hearing them.

So here's a challenge.

Hate my blog? That's ok, stop reading. Feel free to tell others to stop reading.

Love my blog? Keep reading and let other moms in on the secret that there's a place to go to learn about breastfeeding and get honest and open support without judgment.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. ;)

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  1. Blogger Shannon | 7:31 AM |  

    You don't need the affirmation, but, Amen sister!

  2. Anonymous noble savage | 8:14 AM |  

    That. was. awesome.

    Jennifer, you rock my socks. Best blog post ever. I completely agree.

  3. Blogger Hot Librarian | 8:17 AM |  

    What an excellent post. I'm glad you've discovered this compromise. I discovered your blog when the E was 3 months old, and I have always enjoyed it and appreciated it. Rock on, THE Lactivist.

  4. Blogger Annie | 8:31 AM |  

    In my opinion, anyone who exclusively pumped for 14 months is amazingly committed to breastfeeding. I'm nursing my 22 month old and now I am 10 weeks pregnant and I'm open to tandem nursing and child led weaning (even though there are days when I wish this child would give it up already!), and I'm not sure that I could pump for 14 months. I tried pumping a bit when my son was young, but I hated it with a passion.

    I think you are right on about how we shouldn't be looking to you (or anyone else) for approval or acceptance. If that's what we really need, those communities out there, but knowing that we are doing the right thing for our children and ourselves should be enough. I don't need to read on someone's blog about how they are nursing the same way or length of time that we are in order to gain knowledge and support. If this all depended on what someone else wrote on their blog, we never would've made it this far.

  5. Blogger Amber | 8:33 AM |  

    Well said. I have been reading your blog for almost a year now. I have even gone back through your older posts and read them. I have always admired your ability to take a stance on a topic, while still being able to see the other point of view, clearly and completely. I appreciate that you research and think before you write. Too many people fly off the handle, only to misconstrue their own thoughts and opinions. You have totally acknowledged that your parenting style may not be the same as anyone else’s, and that is ok, great even. Because we are all so different, we need to parent differently, and whatever works for our own families will always be the “right” style. You have created an environment for mothers (and fathers) to feel comfortable talking about their breastfeeding/parenting issues, even if they weren’t the norm, or what may be expected from some of our peers. Although my children no longer nurse, in fact they are even past the point of the “enemy” that is formula, I will continue to read your blog. We all know someone who is having a baby, who might be looking for answers. It is nice to say to those parents, “hey, there is a blog you might want to read. You will get solid, truthful information, without judgment.” I look forward to future posts about your children. Parenting is tough, and it is comforting to know that I am not the only parent whose child misbehaves in public, or doesn’t talk “on schedule”. I commend you for your past efforts to keep us informed, your fights for the rights of mothers who want their children to eat at the table with them instead of in a bathroom. I know that if you continue to write about these topics, people will continue to read and support you. Who knows, you may even sway some of those other people over long enough to see that you really are not some vacationing, forceful weaning, child-deserter, but a caring loving mother who is just trying to do what is right for her own family.

  6. Blogger electriclady | 8:38 AM |  

    THANK YOU. I've been reading along with Weanergate all week, trying to think of what I wanted to say...and am finally putting it into words. Before I had my daughter, I was 100% on board with the hardest hardcore breastfeeding advocates. I would exclusively nurse! I would CLW! I would never allow a drop of evil formula to touch my child's lips! In fact, I didn't have ANY clean bottles or formula in the house when we left for the hospital, so that we wouldn't be "tempted" to just "stick a bottle in her" in a weak moment.

    Well, that was before severe jaundice, before we figured out that my milk wasn't coming in, before my milk finally came in on day 5 but at a tiny trickle, before bad latch, before refusal to nurse, before low supply due to PCOS (think 2 ounces a day). I fought and fought and fought and tried my hardest with lots of help (3 visits from 2 different LCs plus a post-partum doula who had nursed two children into toddlerhood) to get the baby on the breast, and when she wouldn't take it I exclusive pumped, and with herbs and domperidone and pumping 8-12 times a day got my supply up to 11 oz/day. And I kept pumping when I went back to work, even though the last thing I wanted to do when I came home was pump some more.

    By the time my daughter was four months old I had had it. I had to quit for my own sanity. Everyone around me IRL, all my blog readers, everyone said I had done a great job, I should be proud. But you know what? I still felt like a failure. Because I had bought into the dogma that good mothers nurse and bad mothers don't, and I kept thinking that maybe I should have tried harder, done more.

    I still support breastfeeding and I think it's great when mothers are able to nurse long-term. But the "nurse at all costs!" lobby can do a lot of harm to women who can't breastfeed--or for whom breastfeeding is just not a good option. I could have kept pumping, to get as much precious breastmilk into my baby as possible--but at the cost of my sanity, my happiness, and my bond with my child. I don't care how magical breastmilk is, it's not worth that.

    So good for you, Jennifer, for standing up for ALL of us, not just the women who fit the perfect "good mother" nursing mold. I don't always agree with everything you write, and I certainly don't always agree with the comments on some of your posts, but I'm glad you're here.

  7. Blogger Crystal R. | 8:50 AM |  

    That was well said! I'm glad you came to this conclusion and I think it is perfectly sound. There are many types of breastfeeding mothers and you are one (okay, maybe you are several) but you are not EVERY breastfeeding mother. And you do serve a very important role, one I am happy to support. Please hang in their while the hubris dies down.

    Also, I'm definitely interested in hearing about your weaning efforts because I am ready to be done (and so is my son) - we just need to work on developing other ways of soothing to advance our relationship. So please continue to share!

  8. Blogger Amy | 8:50 AM |  

    Hey lady, well said. I appreciate your honesty and integrity.

  9. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:01 AM |  

    Amen. I'll be reading you as long you care to write. Good for you.

  10. Anonymous Megan | 9:24 AM |  

    You just hit on the EXACT reason that I looked for and found your blog. With child number 3, I realized there was no way for me to always nurse out of sight because my active 2.5-year-old was always running away from me and getting into things. I could not even dream of dragging him - and keeping him - in a bathroom while trying to nurse my baby and simultaneously balance one leg on a toilet seat as well as keeping track of my homeschooled 5.5-year-old.

    I found your blog at a time when I was wondering what I would do if someone ever did try to kick me out of a restaurant or a store because I was nursing "in public". I read with great interest how I had actual rights and there were laws about nursing in public. This came as a great relief to me. Now almost a year later, I feel much more comfortable nursing in public with my now 3 and 6-year-old in tow.

    Thank you for providing some piece of mind for me at a time when I really felt overwhelmed!

  11. Blogger Cagey | 9:43 AM |  


    You owe apologies to NO ONE.

    Also, I really resented the whole semantics argument over the fact that you used the article "the". When folks started debating your use of "the" versus "a", that is when I completely and utterly stopped listening to them.

  12. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:06 AM |  

    AMEN! This is why I can't wait to see your new posts. Even though I am a child-led-weaner of 3 1/2 yo twins, yours is the only bfing blog I regularly visit.

  13. Anonymous Mary Jo | 10:14 AM |  

    And Jennifer, that's why I'm here! Because, like you, I'm a mom who practices "good enough" parenting. There are ideals out there about all aspects of parenting - but I don't meet any of them. I do the best I can - and so do you. Kudos for being willing to admit that and not play the Supermom game. And, btw, I'll keep reading. :-)

  14. Anonymous ImpostorMom | 10:49 AM |  

    I read your blog all the time but I don't comment very often, sorry about that. :)

    I have been following this whole thing over on the discussion board and in your comments and I just wanted to tell you that I think what you do here is wonderful.

    I feel i am also one of those in the middle type of mothers. I have truly enjoyed my breastfeeding experience (well up until the biting started) but there have also been plenty of times that i wanted to throw in the towel or be unshackled from my baby.

    I don't think this makes me a bad mother or a selfish person. I am an excellent mother and I'm confident in that. I also think that what a lot of these women are missing is that much of the time taking care of yourself is part of being an excellent mother.

    When I read your post about the darker side of nursing it was like it was coming out of my own mouth. And the thing is that I feel like that experience is more common than the roses and daisies experience you often hear about.

    The fact of the matter is that breastfeeding is hard and it takes dedication. I had a pretty easy time of it in the beginning and it's a good thing because if it had been this hard when he was nursing 10-12 times a day I'm not sure I would have lasted.

    Women need to know that and know that they can get through it, but they also need to know that they it is also okay to stop if that is what is best in THEIR situation. Any amount of breastmilk is better than no breastmilk. Yes, 12 months is great, 2 years is better but not everyone is going to get there and not everyone even wants to try. And that is OKAY. Isn't it wonderful that we all live in a world where women and mothers and people in general can make their own decisions about their families and their bodies.

    I certainly don't claim to be a lactivist but I believe that a lactivist is someone who promotes a women's right to breastfeed and receive equal treatment with respect to those that don't breastfeed. A lactivist doesn't have to support any particular way and style of breastfeeding because those things should be left up to the individual mother and her family.

    I support you in your decision to stick around and continue doing just what you have always done. I enjoy your blog and as a nursing mother (soon to be weaning myself, because yes I too am SO ready to be done) I am thankful for all you've done to help preserve and fight for our rights.

    Surely this rambling diatribe makes up for all those times I didn't comment. :)

  15. Blogger Fat Lady | 10:57 AM |  

    All I can say is, it's about time. It was painful watching you try to defend yourself against people who were never going to see things your way.

    There comes a time when you have to say, "Fine. You go on and see it that way. I have better things to do."

    The diversity of opinions about breastfeeding and weaning, though sometimes extreme, is a beautiful thing to me. It means that ALL kinds of women are nursing their babies.

    If all breastfeeding advocates agreed all the time - it would mean that too few people supported breastfeeding. That lactivism was something relegated to a small group of like-minded people.

    I don't want that. I want people from all different cultures and value systems and with a wide range of view points to all recognize that human milk is best for human babies (and children). And the more that happens, the more dissent there is likely to be amongst lactivists.

    Which is all well and good. But everyone has to know that there comes a time when there's really no point in continuing to argue.

    And I'm glad you reached that point and plan to get back to sharing your experiences and thoughts - which are valuable to a great many people.

  16. Blogger Billy and Michelle | 11:10 AM |  

    Amen! Believe me, if I had a breastfeeding blog, people would be upset. My babies are breastfed baby wise babies, no attachment parenting here! But that's what I love about your blog, you support real moms who make real choices.

  17. Blogger Kathie | 11:18 AM |  

    Go Jen! I found your blog entirely by accident (I don't even remember how...but I wasn't breastfeeding at the time...) and I keep reading because I am a formerly bf mom who didn't make it past 8 months, and now I'm pregnant again and I want to do better this time! I'm shooting for one year, but not necessarily going to wean then...but I'm going to need your blog (or others like it) to keep me in my right mind!

    Your blog is important to me. I even mentioned it to one of my bf friends and she'd already heard of you! Keep up the good work.

  18. Blogger Eilat | 11:18 AM |  

    I just want to point out that "dont offer, don't refuse" IS child led weaning. Obviously this is not true when the baby is an infant, but if you have a toddler who can one-way-or-another indicate his desire to nurse then you can stop offering if you don't want to. The child leads.

    LLL endorses this method and it is covered extensively in "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding". I was quite stunned, actually, by a comment from a LLL leader (in a previous post) who seemed to take your weaning quite personally. I have never encountered this attitude in my LLL group and what you are doing seems perfectly in line with the recommendations of the most credible breastfeeding advocacy group in the world.

    Not that you need anyone's approval... but it seems to me that the naysayers are judging on the wrong set of facts.

    Also, interestingly, as I went down the list of who you are here for, I didn't seem to fit any ;-) yet Im still here. Actually, the last two are why I come here. Because I believe in promoting breastfeeding through education, information and positive interaction. Shame, blame, and judgment are simply not effective.

  19. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 11:26 AM |  


    I guess I just count you as "uncategorized bonus traffic." ;) You're one of my favorite posters, so whatever it is that keeps you here, I hope I keep delivering it.

    As for the CLW issue, I viewed it the same way you did. If I was flat-out refusing to nurse him when he wanted it, I could at least see their point a little bit...but apparently, unless you wait until they are old enough to say "no thanks mom" when you offer it, you haven't practiced REAL CLW. :)

    I fully admit I'm speeding it up a bit by not offering as much, but like you said, people will take things and run in the direction they want to.

    I spent a week trying to clarify misconceptions, misunderstandings and outright mistruths, but I'm done. Anyone who reads everything that has been said here can make their own decision about what's going on.

  20. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:24 PM |  

    I am so glad you have decided to keep this blog going. It is sensible and down to earth and "real." I also appreciate the fact that you take time to research hot button topics before responding. I feel like those of us us who read regularly get a clearer sense of what the true issues are, rather than the rhetoric.

    I'm due with my first in less than three weeks and plan to make a go of breastfeeding. The example modeled by you and my sister, who struggled with breastfeeding, switched to formula, and then was able to relactate three months in, give me hope that I can be a good mother even when breastfeeding doesn't exactly go the way I dream it will.

    Thanks for continuing to write. This is one of my first computer stops every morning. :-)

  21. Anonymous Mrs. Robinson | 12:39 PM |  

    Thanks for deciding to keep going. I love to read somebody else's real-life experiences and hope to learn something from what you have gone through. It's great to hear that I'm not the only one dealing with some of these issues!!!!

  22. Anonymous mari | 1:16 PM |  

    I have read your blog for several months, this is my first comment. I read all the controversy, gave it a fair amount of thought. I think that the attitude of the people jumping all over you is so off-putting for people who have "imperfect" nursing experiences. I am a pediatrician, I am a mom of 2, I am a breastfeeding advocate. I have cried rivers over my own nursing difficulties and ultimately am not nursing my almost 9 month old anymore. There is so much emotional stake in nursing and parenting, WHY do people need to add to it with their judgment, all while complaining that others judge them for extended nursing. ANY/ALL nursing is good for kiddos.
    I had a pediatrician colleague who was asked by a potential patient how long his wife had nursed their kids...WHAT does that have to do with his qualifications (isn't the question "how do you support breastfeeding moms")? And how is the nature of your nursing experience, or mine, or anyone's, a qualification for breastfeeding advocacy?
    Anyway, I am rambling. But THANKS for being real.

  23. Blogger Jennifer | 1:51 PM |  

    I completely understand and appreciate your point of view. Keep it up!

    The reality is that breastfeeding, like motherhood itself, is as rocky and controversial a topic as any, and people (especially on the Internet) are all too prone to judgment. Try not to let the haters get you down :)

  24. Blogger JudyBright | 2:35 PM |  

    You're an excellent writer. This is an excellent post just academically speaking.

    It also makes a great point that you don't have to be everything to everyone, just fulfill the purpose God put you here for.

  25. Anonymous Anonymous | 4:04 PM |  

    Jen, your so right. Any amount of breastmilk, be if only a few weeks to going a few months is awesome and amazing of any mother! They all deserve a big congratulations for going as long as they see fit. Breastfeeding IS difficult, and it's about time that mother's get appreciation for whatever it is they do for their children.

  26. Blogger Nicole | 5:39 PM |  

    I agree with your post completely. Breastfeeding isn't perfect for anyone. Breastfeeding is on the best day a delightful chore; on the worst day, a painful and draining obligation. My son is almost 16 months and I'm starting to feel like I'm done with nursing him. It has become an annoyance. I have had a pretty close to perfect nursing experience with him, but I don't know if I'm ready to let this go on for several more months or a few more years. The idea of a year more makes me want to scream. So maybe I won't make the ideal of child-led weaning at 2 or 3 (or 4 or 5). What is the big deal? Whose ideals are they anyway? My goal was one year and now I'm going for 18 months. After that, I think I'm done. My ideal is to do what's best for my family- meaning all of us- including myself. Sometimes reality triumphs over what we are told we "should" do. So good for you. Good for all of us mothers out there doing the best we can with all we have.

  27. Blogger JK | 5:39 PM |  

    You are absolutely right. I stayed out of the whole weaner-gate issue because, it's NONE OF MY BUSINESS... It's your business. If you asked me for my opinion, that would be a different story (but I'd probably just tell you to do what YOU needed to do for you and your family as you know best).

  28. Anonymous Armenda | 6:24 PM |  

    I agree with JK.
    I have always enjoyed reading your blog. I want to commend you on the way you've handled 'weaner-gate', as well as other issues covered in the past. You are a wonderful lactivist who has contributed greatly to the cause. And you offer great support to others through your posts.

  29. Blogger Bethany | 6:35 PM |  

    I am a mom who thought nursing a one-year-old was beyond weird. Until I did it myself. And still, I honestly couldn't see myself nursing a three-year-old. Now I'm s-l-o-w-l-y weaning my 18-month-old through don't offer/don't refuse, and I totally understand what you're going through. I consider myself a lactivist even though I hope to wean within the next six months to a year, and I consider you a lactivist as well.

    That post rocked. I will keep reading as long as you keep writing.

  30. Blogger Danielle | 6:43 PM |  

    I am still getting over the one who said that if a woman isn't going to use her breasts for their intended purpouse (breastfeeding), then she should cut them off. Cut them off!!!! My stomach is still turning over 24 hours later.

  31. Blogger Stephanie | 1:58 AM |  

    thanks so much for having the guts to say that. i've been so lucky that breastfeeding has so far been easy for me and my little one, but i've seen so many women struggle with it for all sorts of reasons. i think we can assume that 99% of the time, a mother wants what's best for her child, and if she's formula feeding or supplementing, she probably has a damn good reason. so let's reserve our judgment for situations in which moms or dads are truly neglecting their children and cut the ones who are trying as hard as they can some slack!

  32. Anonymous Steph | 3:16 AM |  


    I never commented on "weanergate" because it seemed ludicrous that someone so completely unknown to you should have an opinion on your parenting decision, either positive or negative.

    However, I'll post now and say that I think that one of the things that is holding back the lactivism movement is that some of our most strident supporters are (I think, inadvertantly) intent on minimising the experiences of many women who do not fit a preconceived notion of what breastfeeding should be.

    Your experience with nursing, both the wonderful and dreadful, is a valuable addition to the lactivist cause- even if you won't be breastfeeding Emmit before you drop him off at highschool basketball practice ;)

  33. Blogger Jen | 5:11 AM |  

    You're here for me. No more babies, three time nursing loser, didn't even try with number four only to be put on medication so I couldn't change my mind. Pumped for ages with number one. Still regret a lot. Nice to know that others succeed and that there are so many people out there who care when you do.

  34. Blogger Jaime | 7:42 AM |  

    You forgot to mention:

    You're here for Mothers that need help when they are bullied by their very own Doctors and told to use formula when a Mother is ill and using particular medications.

    Your help and emails (and in turn, contacts) helped me continue to nurse my child when my very own primary health physicians told me I couldn't.

    I love your blog, I commend you for the support you show to all nursing Moms and I'm so thankful I had your help when I needed it so very much.

    Awesome entry by the way!

  35. Blogger Darlene | 8:11 AM |  

    Good for you, Jen.

    It's about time someone stands up for taking the pressure off moms who are trying to meet some artificial 'ideal'. From trying to pretend you ALWAYS have ultimate patience, ALWAYS are ready to jump for baby's every demand, ALWAYS are completely entralled with motherhood, to ALWAYS being glad you chose to breastfeed.

    Women have far too many 'perfection' expectations and we wonder why women suffer post-partum depression. Yes, some of it is biological but a great deal is the feeling of not living up to the 'standard' of the perfect mom. BFing is just one more 'standard' now and, from my perspective, it's a shame. Women do not need to feel they have not met a 'standard'....BF'd six weeks and stopped FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL REASONS? Good for you..you gave your best and baby got a good start. Tried and just couldn't get it together? Good for you...your baby will still thrive. BF'd for six months and stopped because your job/health/sanity said it was time? Good for you...your baby will thrive.

    The point is, as you so aptly said, BFing is a very personal decision and no woman should be subjected to someone else's standard of what is right for them and their child. Bloggers such as you can encourage, support, and educate those who are BFing and can be a resource for others who want advice. However, when bloggers turn judgemental, it is a disservice to those they hope to help.

    As usual, you write from sense and sensibility. As an avid and constant reader for a year now, I appreciate your posts and your thoughtful approach.

  36. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:23 AM |  

    You write this blog for me! I wish you had been around in 2003 when I had my daughter and for many reasons we couldn't get the hang of nursing. I exclusively pumped for 4 months until my supply dropped and I felt like such a failure! At the time,I tried to find info on EPing but there wasn't much out there. I started reading your blog when I was pregnant with my son, who is now 15 months. I was so worried about trying to breastfeed again. Reading about your experiences has been so healing for me, and I'm happy to say breastfeeding went really well the second time around and we just weaned at 14 months (I was ready and he didn't protest when I didn't offer). I get so upset when people are judgmental about the amount of time moms breastfeed. To me, a lactivist would shout "Congratulations!" at any amount of time a woman can breastfeed or pump for her child. Thanks for all you do and for keeping it honest. The breastfeeding world needs a level headed and compassionate person like you.

  37. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 10:51 AM |  

    Geeze. You gals sure know how to make someone feel special.

    That wasn't my intent in writing the post, but these comments are the icing on the cake of my certainty to keep blogging.

  38. Anonymous Anonymous | 1:28 PM |  

    If you don't need the affirmation then why put this blog entry out there? Why defend your self appointed title, "The Lactivist"? Why choose to leave only the supportive comments visible? I don't understand why you think that you are practicing "Don't offer, Don't refuse" when you've clearly stated that your son has a deadline and expressed your frustration toward his continued weaning despite his legitimate need for the comfort and nourishment.

    While I don't agree that a Lactivist has to conform to certain standards or fit into specific parameters, I don't condone or agree with your parenting method nor do I understand weaning for what I deem a selfish reason. Whatever...not my business. However, when you're labeling yourself "THE Lactivist" and making a point of listing all that you have to offer the nursing community, you are choosing to be a role model, one that I hope other's choose not to follow in regards to certain decisions.

    You seem shocked by the backlash, however, rather than stepping back and examining the situation, you are defending yourself and snubbing your nose at anyone who dare challenge you. Why would so many women vehemently defend the title that you've assumed or show genuine concern for the ideas you are promoting if there weren't some legitimate reason? I'm not siding with anyone who said women should remove their breasts if they aren't used for feeding, nor do I think that mother's who choose to wean their child at 14 months are horrible mothers, but I do question what you have to offer in terms of the "movement" that many of us want to see take place. I don't see what you are doing here as straddling some invisible line between hardcore CLW's and those who practice "gentle weaning" methods. Rather, I view you as someone who likes to feel like a leader, who is unwilling to give up their self proclaimed position of authority.

    I hope that you can read my words honestly and sincerely. Although, as previously stated, I don't agree with your methods, I don't think you are a horrible person, a terrible parent or blatant liar. I think that you have good intentions, but you were obviously and painfully unaware of the crowd to which you have been speaking. Your audience has revolted and I hope you will try to see why.

  39. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 1:36 PM |  

    Three points in response.

    1.) You wrote "Why choose to leave only the supportive comments visible?" You may be surprised to hear it, but I've posted every single comment that has come into this blog in the last several months. Not since the race war broke out have I screened comments and even then, I posted them after removing some choice word that have no business in a public forum.

    If you only see "supportive" comments, it's because that's what has been submitted.

    2. I'm not snubbing my nose at those who challenge me. They can challenge all they want. What I'm saying is that this blog is not written for them. It's written for the legions of women who DO find value in it.

    Why keep reading something you disagree with? There are plenty of other blogs out there. You can even start your own.

    3. My "audience" hasn't revolved. In fact, the greatest majority of my audience (at least those who email me or leave comments) are still here. (To be honest, this whole fiasco has actually created a surge.) A small, yet vocal minority is upset, yes...but that's part of life.

    Can't please everyone all of the time.

    But then again, I've never really tried to do that. ;)

  40. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 1:39 PM |  

    I take that back. An exact duplicate of your post above is sitting in my blogger account waiting to be deleted or go live.

    My guess is you didn't realize there was a lag in posting and having them show up, so you resubmitted.

    Would you like me to publish it to, or can I delete it?

  41. Blogger Heather | 10:28 PM |  

    I've been reading Jennifer's blog long enough to know that she has NO problem letting negative or unsupportive comments through. The only time to my knowledge she has ever deleted comments has been when they are outright trolling (as in vicious, profanity-filled, or racist, for example) or spam.

    I think people need to stop getting hung up on those three little letters.

    It's just "the". Really. That's all it is. Doesn't mean she's setting up for any kind of authority. It's a freaking BLOG, people. Not the National Coalition on Breastfeeding Advocacy,

  42. Blogger Stacy | 10:38 AM |  

    Great post. I will kep reading. I love your blog, your openness to new ideas, our honesty, etc. I hate what others have said but am glad to see you overcome it with dignity and grace.

  43. Blogger HW | 11:31 AM |  

    Anonymous -
    You don't agree with or condone her parenting decisions? So what? And if it's "not your business.." why are you bothering to come on and condemn her for her choices.
    So many people, like Anonymous, want their choices to be respected, but they do not want to respect the choices of others. I don't get it. Where's the tolerance for different points of view?

    As for you Jennifer, I wish you'd been there for me when my kids were babies. I seemed to only be able to find the militant ones who made me feel like a complete idiot when I had any troubles with breastfeeding. I was told it couldn't hurt that bad, I must be doing something wrong, if I gave up I was "less than" as far as mothering was concerned. I didn't give up, but I did not find any source of true encouragement.

  44. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:57 PM |  

    I'm glad to see a blog that supports every mother's parenting choices. I'm glad you're here! I never wanted to breastfeed because I felt that doing it just wasn't necessary for my family, and I'm glad there are lactivists such as yourself that support me, no matter what my choice. Just as as I can choose to use my body to feed my baby or not, you can too! Why doesn't everyone understand that? The world is crazy sometimes...

  45. Blogger Amber | 5:50 PM |  

    I just started reading your blog and this post has committed me! What a fantastic approach that really shows, I think, how most women feel about BF!

    Thank you so much!

  46. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 6:16 PM |  

    Welcome aboard Amber! :)

  47. Anonymous gwynthfair | 6:17 AM |  

    I really cannot believe some people. Yes breastfeeding is great. But it is not the absolute most important aspect of being a mother! I'm so f-ing fed up with the militant breastfeeders who choose to make so many women feel bad, when they've breastfed their children for longer than the vast majority of children in this country are breastfed. It's ridiculous. And above all, it is incredibly ignorant and arrogant.

  48. Anonymous Sarah | 11:25 AM |  

    I'm just now coming across this posting but I was so happy to read it. When I was pregnant I was dead set on breastfeeding, when we found out at 20 weeks it was twins, I still kept that goal. Then they were born 7 weeks early and the complications set in. I pumped religiously, every 3 hours around the clock. My babies wouldn't latch and after having a LC continually shove my preemies' head into my breast for days I decided pumping would be the best route. Well no one told me after months of that I would be exhausted with it and want to give up. I made it 4 months or so with a supply to last until they were 6 months. I was relieved to be done but I also felt a huge amount of guilt.

    I said all that to say this, I wish that I could have had a resource like this blog then. At the time I felt there were two options, you nurse or you don't. I felt like a freak for contanstly having a pump stuck to me but I knew I was doing what was best for my babies. I felt like I would either do it or not and I would either have everyone agreeing with my choice or everyone telling me I was a horrible mother. Your line of thinking seems to be right along with mine. Every family is different, every situation is different. Just because you support and encourage breastfeeding doesn't mean you'll continue doing it until you children are teenagers. You're not setting a bad example by weaning at 18 months, I applaud you for nursing that long. There are many of us who were thrilled with that ONE time our child actually latched on.

    I could continue on all day but it might get boring and repetitive so I'll stop here. I congratulate you and the many women you've provided support for, it seems as though SUPPORT is your main purpose here. No one has to read or agree with what you say.

  49. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:01 PM |  

    :) You are fabulous. There are so many sites/blogs/discussions out there related to lots of baby-related stuff that make me MAD...not because of the subject, but because of the attitude.

    I expected to hate your blog....and I LOVE it. There are so many people in so many different situations that we know nothing about and would never understand. Never ever ever judge...not the mom nursing her toddler....not the mom holding a bottle (how do you know whats in that bottle anyway or WHY?)

    I breastfed for *almost* a year and I'm SO sad its over. After the inital sucky-ness (no pun intended) I LOVED it. And now there is another one on the way I get to do it all over again. Yay!

    BUT...I hate the propaganda. It has been proved that breastfeeding doesn't make your kid smarter or better. It doesn't even make YOU lose more weight. Which is a REALLY important point. I think lactivists (in general and not you specifcally!) should concern themselves with the population who CAN be helped by breastfeeding - moms who fall into the lower section of the socio-economic scale...the groups where breastfeeding is still NOT considered acceptable (particularly in low income African American and Caucasian groups.

    Breastfed babies aren't smarter...the people who breastfeed tend to be smarter. They have the money and resources to get the help they need to succeed. They mostly have jobs that allow them to pump at work. They know the laws about BFing in public. They have supportive spouses.

    Did you know that when a babies born into difficult socio-economic circumstances are LESS LIKELY TO BE ABUSED when they are breastfed? How's that for a worthwhile reason?

    Making the american (mostly white) middle class feel guilty if they decide to bottle feed isn't really worth the effort in my opinion. Their babies are *probably* going to be ok given everything else they have going for them. Not to mention that the cost of formula is a drop in the bucket if you family makes $60,000/year....not so much if your income is $12,000

    How about some advocacy for those babies who TRULY need every single ounce of a good start in life they can get?

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