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What Would You Do If You Got This Email?

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.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No, this email wasn't sent to me, but it was sent to a friend of mine. I've changed the names to protect the innocent and the not so innocent.

I have a favor to ask for the birthday party…

I know you are 100% totally comfortable nursing in public and around a lot of people but I would really appreciate it if while you are at the birthday party you could go in the house or away from the group to nurse. I have some friends that had preemies and were not able to breastfeed their babies and its upsetting to them and also the majority of our family/friends aren't really that comfortable with overt breastfeeding and I want to do everything possible to make the day as comfortable as possible for everyone.

I totally respect your decision and ability to nurse wherever you want in front of anyone (I certainly couldn't/didn't feel comfortable doing it!) but I'm asking for you to respect our wishes to make the birthday party about Addie and not about everyone feeling uncomfortable.

Also – if you could get Tim to wear a "non-weirdo" shirt that would be great too – we'll be taking lots of family pictures I'm sure and it would be great to look back at these pics and not see one of his shirts with a giant steak and "got beef?" or what not on it – you know how he is with silly shirts hehehehheeee

I hope you understand where I'm coming from with this and let me know if you think that will be a problem!

We can't wait to see you next week – Addie wants to see what having hair looks like, I'm hoping she'll be inspired by Emma and start growing some more!

Yep...you read that all correctly. Someone I know actually just received that email from a family member. She emailed me to ask what I'd do. Here was my response:

Oh. My. Goodness.

Personally (and keep in mind that I'm grumpy from lack of sleep) I would write back and assure her that you won't be nursing at the party and that Tim won't be showing up in a "weird" shirt.

Then I'd visit the post office to drop a nice gift in the mail.

Then I'd stay home.

I asked her about posting it here and she said she'd love to hear reader responses and how they would handle it.

Honestly, I find a few things interesting about the request...

1.) Once again, it's always about making everyone BUT the mother and baby comfortable. Who cares if my friend has to feel like she's doing something wrong or offensive every time she feeds her child? At least other people wouldn't have to confront their own issues with nursing...

2.) The "preemie" logic. I wonder...if one of the attendees had lost a child to SIDS or stillbirth, or even a miscarriage...would my friend be expected to leave her baby home because it might be a painful reminder of what she'd lost? What if one of the attendees was a widow or widower? Should other people leave their spouses home? While I am not unsympathetic to loss, I don't believe in hiding joyous things because of them. I certainly wouldn't flaunt the nursing, but to go and hide? No.

In my mind, any person has the right to make a request of what someone else does or does not do in their own home. This person was totally within their rights to ask my friend not to nurse, or to nurse in private.

But if I had someone tell me that I was not welcome to nurse in their home, then my solution would probably be politely decline to visit their home.


  1. Blogger Blasphemous Homemaker | 2:33 PM |  

    I nurse everywhere and while at first I might be tempted to acomodate her, the "weirdo shirt" comment is just rude. That goes into the realm of "we don't like your family the way you are."

    The peaceful thing to do is to decline the invitation.

    The Terry thing to do would be to go,dress my husband in the most offensive shirt possible, and not just nurse in the crown but do it as non-discreet as possible. Then I would tell that relative, "Hey, the next time you are at our house, you are perfectly welcome to come as you are, because we accept you as is."

  2. Blogger Eilat | 2:39 PM |  

    This person is obviously crazy. "don't wear weirdo shirts" (!?!?)
    I'd stay home.
    This person obviously has issues. Forget the breastfeeding for a second, who tells their guests how to dress?

    The more I read about nursing in public issues (on your blog and other places) the more I just don't get it. What's the big deal?

  3. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:40 PM |  

    OMG. I am speechless. Wow.

    What I would do would totally depend on who in my family sent the message and what kind of relationship I had with them. To be honest, it's the T-shirt comment that I find REALLY offensive and that tosses me over the edge. I understand wanting people to be comfortable and that me BFing could make people uncomfortable. I would NOT be pleased to receive that note, but I could understand why one would ask. But asking that DH not wear his normal attire just plain REEKS of "could y'all please not be so WEIRD? We really would rather not have WEIRDOS around us."

    So w/out the T-shirt comment I would react in context of who asked. With the T-shirt comment I would bow out and not send a gift and not initiate any further contact. Really, why would you support people who so blatantly have issues w/ you? But then again I am also grumpy these days ;)

  4. Blogger Mamaebeth | 2:56 PM |  

    i agree with what you recommend, stay home! i am not sure i would be so discreet with my descion to not attend the party, though.
    in fact i probably would reply with something along the lines of, "you know i just remembered, i have to wash my hair that day. i am sorry we will be unable to attend the birthday party."

  5. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:58 PM |  

    And another thought. I think this was REALLY tacky to send in an email. It would have been much more appropriate (and adult and kind) to pick up the phone and say "I know I'm a pain but could you do me this one (two if she dares to mention the shirt in person!) favor?" I'd be much more likely to be pleasant about this kind of request if someone asked me in person/on the phone.

    So how is she going to respond?

  6. Blogger mamamilkers | 2:59 PM |  

    I wouldn't go. Period. I probably wouldn't even respond. How amazingly and utterly rude. Wow. Not only would I not go to the party, but I wouldn't go to anything ever again with her.

  7. Blogger Mom | 3:01 PM |  

    I would probably do the same as you advise your friend, just not go. How horrible of her family to ask her to go nurse elsewhere. A friend of mine has a phrase he uses that applies to a few situs, and I think it works here, and it is "If you don't like what's on the TV, turn the channel." If those people are not comfortable then they can go elsewhere.

    And to ask that her hubby not wear a "weirdo" shirt? How about she get the stick out of her you-know-where and get a grip. After all, it IS Abby's day and I doubt she cares what shirt the guy is wearing. He's family for crying in the sink!!

    Oh and to throw the preemie thing out there?

    I better shut my mouth before I get myself into trouble. Lol

  8. Blogger Mama Seoul | 3:06 PM |  

    I disagree with you. I would go to the party and nurse in another room. They didn't say "nurse in the bathroom or your car". The e-mail didn't say she wasn't welcome to nurse in her home, it asked her to nurse in another room during this party.

    The focus should be about the little girl and her birthday. The mother believes there will be trouble from relatives or friends. Even if she is wrong or making an excuses because it is really just herself that is uncomfortable, why not accomodate her and enjoy the party?

    I have nursed everywhere from the Four Seasons in Cairo to the grocery store in Erie,PA but if a friend asked me to nurse in another room during an event for her daughter I would do it.

    I found the husband's shirt comments more offensive than the nursing request. Though, I would accomodate that request as well.

    Families can be strange. I'm sure everyone has been to a wedding, baby shower or other event with extended family where people are overly sensitive. You can't choose your family, but you do choose your friends. Friends should help friends deal with family when they can. Of course, you could choose not to be friends with someone who would ask this of you, but I really don't think this is a big deal.

    If she were planning a birthday party for ME and asked me not to nurse in public that would be different, but it is for her daughter and the not nursing in pubic is to void family conflict.

    Relax. Go to the party and have fun.

  9. Blogger K | 3:19 PM |  

    I'd be pissed. Really. Pissed. I hope, though, that I would listen to my better angels and try to find a solution that brings the situation forward just a wee bit. I probably would not go, but with the gift sent via USPS, I'd enclose a heartfelt note relaying how her request made me feel. And that perhaps she lost an opportunity to explain to those other guests -- the uncomfortable ones -- that breastfeeding is normal and natural and they need to get over themselves.

  10. Blogger K | 3:24 PM |  

    WOW! Some nerve. Can't help feeling an underlying "if you and your family could just pretend to be normal for this, we'd ALL appreciate it." -gag-

    Send a lovely gift.

    OR.. -eg- Have him in a lovely shirt but make him refuse to take off his "I Play With My Baby's Food" hat! ;) And ask him to announce loudly (since he is apparently already a complete 'weirdo') every time you are going to stick your boob in the baby's mouth. LOL

  11. Blogger Darlene | 3:43 PM |  

    Jennifer, as some of your other readers commented, the nonsense about the t-shirt bothered me more than anything else. Geesh.

    As you know, I fully support the mom's right to breastfeed anywhere she chooses, but I also know where the writer is coming from. I have close family members who are also very uncomfortable with seeing a woman nursing a child and they're of varying ages. Our compromise, when my niece was nursing was to use a cover. I don't mean this as a commercial but it's exactly why our nursing covers came to be. It was a matter of respecting both the mom and baby and the host of the family event. It worked out beautifully and my sis-in-law was grateful that Dana made the effort to not 'flaunt' (her term) the breastfeeding.

    I, too, believe that it's silly to not be able to nurse wherever and whenever, but sometimes it's more about respect for others than the 'issue'. Perhaps this mom can offer to use a cover (I know where she can find a good one lol) and then, if the offer is refused, then use her option not to attend. Maybe nursing with a cover will spark some conversation without provoking extreme discomfort. It also might surprise the writer if she finds that most of guests actually are happy to have a breastfeeding mom...it could be just the writer's discomfort projected on her guests. Unfortunately, if the choice is made not to attend, the other family members, especially the children, will lose out by your friend's absence and your friend's child will miss the interaction with friends and family as well.

    I know it's nearly impossible to change an adults' viewpoint on BIP so maybe a more gentle compromise approach (a nursing cover) will serve both purposes: allow your friend to attend but also exert her (and her baby's) right and need to nurse on schedule.

    Now, the t-shirt thing is a stickier problem. What does the hubby think? It's possible he doesn't really care enough to make an issue and will just wear a plain t-shirt. (or one with huge brightly colored tropical flowers. Hey, it wouldn't have "weird" sayings, right? **tee hee**

  12. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 3:53 PM |  


    The problem with that is even if a mom is ok with using a cover, a LOT of babies are not.

    There is absolutely zero chance that I could nurse Emmitt with a cover these days. It simply wouldn't happen. In fact, I promise you we'd make far more of a spectacle of ourselves that way than we would if we just nursed.

    It may be the same for this woman. Besides, as you know...while I'm a huge fan of nursing covers for MOMs that want to use them, the idea of someone using one to make someone else happy makes me very upset.

    Should I be able to ask a bottle feeding mom to cover up her baby and the bottle with a cover if it makes me uncomfortable?

    Some how, I doubt that would fly.

    It's why my response would be to send a nice gift to the child and to politely decline to attend the party. I wouldn't get nasty about it, I simply wouldn't go.

    To note, I also found the shirt request more offensive than the nursing one, though it could be that the combination just made it quite clear that the woman was saying "show up with a gift, but leave your freaky selves behind..."

  13. Blogger Lides | 4:20 PM |  

    **sigh** I know someone like this. I have heard her say exactly this sort of thing. She never allows visitors to nurse their babies in her home. Well, I should say, she asks them to go to the bedroom and shut the door and if they won't she asks them to leave. (Yes, she breastfed her kids). She is hyper-controlling, and has very specific ideas of how people "ought" to behave.

    Anyway, my point is simply that this friend/relative of your friend is not alone in thinking/behaving this way.

    Not going is what I would do.

  14. Blogger Mommy's Getaway | 4:23 PM |  

    *thunk* Sound of my jaw hitting the floor!

    So this was a family member (of your friend's) that sent this to your friend?

    I understand the not wanting to make people uncomfortable in your own house, whole she-bang.

    However, when the t-shirt is mentioned...Wow, that is what sent me over the top.

    For myself, both kids were just fine eating under a light blanket, so that wouldn't have been an issue for me. And to be honest, I like to be off on my own when I am breastfeeding. I can't relax and have letdown otherwise. So, that wouldn't have been an issue for me.

    However, I want to know what is wrong with "Got Beef?" Dangit, this country's backbone was beef! HAHA!

    I would almost over-react in this situation and have my hubby wear the "got beef" shirt and I would buy one your "got milk" shirts. :D And then we can be the weirdos that offend everyone.

  15. Blogger Nevanna | 4:34 PM |  

    I was also more offended by the shirt comment than the "go elsewhere".

    To note...mine just will not eat with something over his head. Never would, even as a newborn--he's got this freaky thing about not being at all too hot.

    I think I would "play nice" because it's a family function--and you can't really (and shouldn't) quit family. However, I wouldn't stay very long...maybe show up, be polite, and then disappear as quickly as is possible.

    I'd also probably tell hubby what was said, and leave it up to him. If he wants to wear his black shirt with the skeleton giving the middle finger...fine. (Hey, I think it's funny around Halloween!) I'm not going to tell him what to do.

  16. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:00 PM |  

    I either wouldn't go, or I'd send a response like "thank you for expressing your concerns, but this is how and who we are. I'm sure that the people who would be uncomfortable seeing a nursing mom don't ask women to stop nursing at the mall, the park, the pool, etc., and I don't see how a birthday party is any different. If you are uncomfortable with us and the way we live our lives, please be open enough to say so to our faces and we'll stay home and not both you with our presence."

  17. Blogger Anna | 5:09 PM |  

    I agree with the majority, I would not go to the party. Could this woman be more offensive?? "Please come to our party. Bring a gift, but refrain from being yourselves. Your very essence will make people uncomfortable and ruin the family photos."

    The t-shirt thing is just asinine, so I won't comment on it further other than to say that I, too, actually found it more offensive than the nursing request, or at least equally so.

    As far as the request to nurse privately...

    The "I want to make sure everyone is comfortable" rationale is just bogus. By requesting that this mother go to another location to nurse, the writer is forcing her to be uncomfortable for most of the day.

    Although I understand where cairo mama is coming from, I know that for me, personally, every time I have secluded myself or covered up to nurse at the request of others I've felt as though I was doing something shameful and wrong. It honestly made me feel physically ill. It just goes against the very core of my being. That, and all three of my kids hated - HATED - to be covered up. Talk about making a spectacle!

    Regarding the potential of making the mothers of premies feel bad/sad... I appreciate the sentiment, but I don't believe that we should alter when or how we feed our babies because it might make someone else uncomfortable or feel bad. I have nursed in front of, and talked about the joys of breastfeeding with, many mothers who could not breastfeed due to premature babies, medication that was contraindicated, adoption, etc. They perhaps get wistful watching me nurse and momentarily wish they could have, but not one of them would expect me to hide in another room in order to prevent their hurt feelings.

    Every time we nurse in public there is the potential for doing it in view of someone who wanted to nurse but couldn't. That is a very sad thing, but I don't think it's reason enough for us to seek out seclusion in order to feed our babies.

    The bottom line is, I firmly believe that the only person's comfort a breastfeeding mother should be worried about is her own and her baby's.

    Yes, it is this woman's house and she is well within her rights to set the rules, but if I were this mother and chose to attend, I would be completely uncomfortable and resentful the entire time I was there.

    And I just have to say, the phrase "overt breastfeeding" absolutely cracks me up. What is that, exactly? I highly doubt that this mother stands up and announces, "I'M GETTING MY BREAST OUT NOW SO THAT I CAN FEED MY BABY!" prior to nursing.

    Good grief.

    "Overt breastfeeding"


  18. Blogger Shay | 5:26 PM |  

    If my son is not welcome to eat at her party, then we won't go to her party. As for the tee shirt, I'd make sure DH was wearing the "I play with my baby's food" hat and his "Finish the Fight" Halo 3 shirt for every last picture.

    The whole preemie thing is a cop out.The whole I couldn't nurse/didn't like nursing in public so I don't want to see others doing it, is a load of poop.

    I'm E-mail her back, something to the effect that I think the E-mail is tacky, not just the nursing but deeming what my DH can and cannot wear. That I think it's a a cop out and since my son isn't welcome to eat at her party and my husband isn't allowed to dress the way he wants, we just won't go there again until the rules change.

  19. Blogger Annie | 5:43 PM |  

    Wow, I'm with you, I wouldn't go. I agree that everyone has the right to make requests in their own home and if they don't want me to nurse, then I won't nurse at there home. I just won't be visiting their home any longer. I don't feel like it's worth it to put so much effort into a friendship if they aren't going to accept you as you are, but it's more difficult when it's family.

    The shirt comment was just rude.

    I don't know if I'd actually have the guts to do it, but I would want to reply and say something about how I'm so glad you let me know that you aren't comfortable with who we are, that way I don't have to waste my time thinking we were friends/family. You don't have to worry any longer about me jiggling my breasts around in front of you or my husband wearing ridiculous t-shirts because we'll just stay out of your way from here on out.

  20. Blogger So Not Organized | 6:08 PM |  

    I would respond with asking her not to make my family, their guests, uncomfortable by making me and the baby hide somewhere else during the party. Because you know, it's not so much about me exposing my breasts as it is my baby eating. And I would ask her not to make Tim uncomfortable by dressing in something that isn't his choice.

    I would probably end with something like if you think my family is so weird, maybe we'll just skip the party (and the gift!) because we wouldn't want anyone to be uncomfortable--including us.

  21. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:09 PM |  

    What a family.

    Well, for the nursing question, my answer would be: "It depends". If the baby is a newborn or young infant who nurses frequently to the point that the mom will miss half the party by breastfeeding by herself, then I would say - don't go! Who wants to make all the effort to go sit in a bedroom by yourself? If the baby is older and might only nurse once or twice, then it would depend on how good a relationship it is. I was told by my brother: "Jen, no boob at the wedding", meaning I was not allowed to nurse my 14 month old at his wedding. Well, she ended up being sick and nursing was the only thing that made her feel better and was the only nutrition she was getting, so I completely ignored him. If this was a relative who was frequently annoying with requests and I didn't really care about ticking off, then I would probably ignore the request and breastfeed when my baby needed it. If this is someone who has never made a big request and with whom I had a good relationship, I might consider following.

    The shirt thing? Well, I can understand that a little. My brother showed up for Christmas Eve in a shirt with a silhouette of a stripper on a pole. But that request should have been made directly to her husband, why make her the bad messenger?? Some people have nothing better to do than focus on the negatives of others.

    I just thought of another option, my favorite actually would be the passive agressive option. Every time the baby needs to nurse, I would make sure I was within earshot of the host and say, "I'm sorry, Aunt Betty, the baby is hungry and I was told that I'm not allowed to nurse out here with everyone else so I have to go in the house and hide." C'mon, you have to love passive-aggressiveness. Please, whoever sent you this email, write us back and let us know what you do.

  22. Blogger Olive | 6:28 PM |  

    wow. just WOW first of all.

    ok as i try to compose myself from th e seething anger a few things are jumping out to me. first personally one of my goals is to normalize nursing and present it in a friendly, whateverness style therefore. hiding in the house/bathroom/dark corner isn't my thing. BUT is it possible that if said recipient nurses in front of people that she knows for a fact are going to be uncomfortable that she isn't doing good for "the cause"?

    the shirt issue is just insane and rude. overall i would advise the recipient be herself and if someone can't hang with that then i also would skip the event.

    mama always said "the people that matter don't care and the people that do, don't matter."

  23. Blogger elderberryjam | 6:50 PM |  

    There is an ethical and cultural issue, in that this person is acting like breastfeeding in public is wrong. It is worse because it is a family member. Breastfeeding in public is not wrong.

    I would not go to the party. I would tell the family member, in an email, that I was not coming because given her requests, I might be spending much of the party in a bedroom rather than at the party. That would not be worth the effort for me to come. I'd tell them that the child's birthday gift is in the mail. Being me, I might add that she and her child were welcome to eat in our bedroom any time as well.

    In the same email, I might add, "If you'd like my husband to dress differently, you are going to have to communicate that with him yourself."

  24. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:01 PM |  

    My sister has tattoos all over her body and there have been occasions that an extended family member has asked her to cover up for pictures, holidays, whatever have you. We, her immediate family, have supported her and her desires to be "weird" and generally decline any invitation that has a "please cover up" before you come request. We do this because obviously that family doesn't mean a whole lot to us if they can't accept individuals within the family. Therefore, I would say don't go, life is too short to be in a place where people think you are "weird" and can't handle it. I'm sure it is going to take a lot of your day up anyway, wouldn't you rather hang out with the family at home and do something more fun :) IMHO

  25. Blogger JudyBright | 7:18 PM |  

    I'd have to interpret it knowing who sent it and the situation, but it seems just from the email that this woman thinks that the breastfeeder and her husband are just strange and need to behave properly to make the day go well.

    I also think she's using the whole preemie thing as an excuse for her own issues. Who has a group of friends who all had preemies who all are devastated that they couldn't breastfeed to the point that they can't even be around a breastfeeding mother? I am a mother or a preemie who tried very hard to breastfeed and failed. Get over yourselves and deal with your life,

  26. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:05 PM |  

    What makes this somewhat complicated is the fact that the "request" came from a family member about a family event. The summation of "please bring a gift but leave your freaky selves at home" is maybe a little harsh. I have loooooots of experience with my family members not "getting" who I and the rest of my family are and making outlandishly rude comments, questions and requests as a result. But I try to bear in mind that it's not out of spite, and that they're family, flawed and occasionally hurtful as they are. Some people's experience of life and the world is very narrow indeed and no matter how patiently you try to show them that there's nothing to fear from those who are "different" they'll just never be okay with it. This doesn't mean they don't love you or care about you - they just aren't perfect people. Even if your friend's relative doesn't "get" her and her family, the relative should be able to understand that what she's asking - particularly with respect to your friend's husband - has come across as quite hurtful. It might be worth trying to have this conversation in as non-accusatory a tone as possible, letting the relative know that what she's asked hurt her feelings and why, and it might take a few days of letting this email settle before she's able to get past the initial shock of hurt and anger to have this conversation in a way that will be productive. Creating rifts in families - and my family has had plenty through the generations so I speak from sad experience - affects everyone. If she decides not to go, it's possible that as a result the hostess will start to pull back from participating with your friend's family as well, thereby cutting off the next generation from getting to know each other as well as they might have otherwise. This would be a real tragedy and should be avoided if at all possible. I agree that life is too short to spend it with people who don't want you around - but I'm not sure it's safe to assume that is the writer's sentiment without having a frank conversation with her first. Life is also too short not to forgive for the greater good. Your friend's relative may just be wildly clueless and tactless, and might apologize profusely when told how her email came across.

  27. Blogger Jane | 8:49 PM |  

    I agree with Liz and Cairo Mama.

    I would go to the party. This sounds like something a sister might have written. I have a weird dysfunctional family and we all have very little in common, so I could imagine getting a note like this. I thought that the t-shirt thing was only half-serious (like maybe she was trying to make a joke to lighten things up after her initial request.)

    The email is rude, but she didn't say that you weren't welcome to nurse in her house.

    You could always decide to "forget" her request and nurse wherever. But in any case I would go to the party unless I was looking for an out ;)

  28. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:57 PM |  

    I'm a vegetarian, but I don't expect people to refrain from eating meat around me. In fact, I even serve it when I host parties in my home.

    Geesh. I would definitely not go. Then again, I use the "I need to nurse the baby in private" excuse to avoid my inlaws for at least 45 minutes everytime I visit them. I wonder how many more years I can get away with that before they realize I'm just reading magazines in the basement?

  29. Blogger Strikethru | 9:54 PM |  

    You know what I am sick of, is this general notion that "uncomfortable people" are seen as the norm that should be accommodated. Giving in to this request is furthering this prejudice in society. Nursing is *not* about exhibitionism. Prudish people make it about that, and the prudes at this party would be the people taking attention away from the girl-- not the nursing mom. (Imagine "Can you not be (insert race/gender/religion) around me? I am biased against it and don't want to deal with my discomfort.") I have always been a very discreet (and not very brave) NIP mother, but if someone overtly asked me not to (esp. someone who was supposedly my friend) they'd see my nasty side come out real quick.

  30. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:58 PM |  

    Apparently, the person who wrote such an email is desperately trying to avoid any discomfort at the party. But guess what?
    If I were a BFIP mom, then I and my baby would feel uncomfortable having to hide. My husband would also feel uncomfortable wearing something that isn't "him".
    We don't want to make anyone, especially ourselves uncomfortable, so we'd stay at home. And that's exactly what I'd tell the oh-so-considerate-and-perfectionist family member.
    And the next time I'd host a family event, I'd invite a few BFIP moms and write this particular family member a similar email asking her to leave the room while other moms BF to avoid making them feel uncomfortable.

  31. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:33 PM |  

    I could not imagine having family like that. Yikes.

    The thing is, my son is so distractable that I would probably have to nurse in a different room anyway. But receiving a request like that would really raise my ire, so I would insist that bottle feeders be made to go into another room, as well. I would probably say, "Well, I am uncomfortable with their bottle feeding because my son refused to take a bottle. This is a hardship for me, as we are forced to miss parties while hiding out in another room just so that I can feed him."

    I would not go to the party if the family member pushed the issue. Instead, I would choose to visit with the birthday kid separately to celebrate the occasion.

    She says that she wants to make everyone comfortable, but obviously she is not worried about the discomfort of this particular family. As the hostess, this family member could instead choose to be supportive and set an example for all attendees.

    Really, sometimes it's too bad that we can't choose our family.

  32. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:16 AM |  

    I'd have to take several things into consideration here. #1 Who is the sender and what is their relationship to me? If it was an aunt or a cousin, I might be more inclined to skip the party than if it was my sister and this was my neice's 1st birthday. I couldn't deny my children the right to be close with their cousin or myself to know my neice or nephew just because my sister may be an insensitive close minded idiot. #2 How old/skilled at nursing is my baby, how fast a nurser is she, and how many times do I think she will nurse during the party? If I accomadating the request would land me in the bedroom the entire time, I'd skip the party. But if baby will probably nurse once during the party and can suck em dry in 10-15 minutes - hey, I'd miss more of the party taking my almost 3 year old back and forth to the potty.

    While I am not a BFer and can not say for certain what I'd do, I can't help but feel that I would respect the BFing request, depending on the person that made it. My ILs are pentecostal preachers and my MIL has an insane sense of modesty. Long skirts, long hair, no jewlery (including wedding rings), no makeup. I bought her a beautiful blouse one year for Christmas but she never wore it because it showed too much of her collar bone. That is just how she is and how my FIL is as well. They have no problem being around a BFing woman - MIL BF her 3 boys for over a year each and my SIL is going strong in her 3rd month of EBF, as long as there is discresion. But it is the showing of flesh - any flesh from the knees to the shoulders, that makes both of them uncomfortable. A glimpse of flesh here and there while BF wouldn't run them off, but they would choose not to come into the room if a woman is obviously exposed. They would never tell a woman to cover herself or that it is wrong to do what she is doing. But they choose to not be around it and will either not go where modesty is not in use or will remove themselves from it if the situation comes to them. And because of this, I would never dream of making them uncomfortable in their own home by being disrespectful of their own sense of modesty.

    I'm more shocked at the tshirt comment and the fact that the sender was so utterly tactless about the whole thing. If this was my neice or nephew's birthday party and I knew people like my ILs would be there, I'd go, use a cover or step into the bedroom to nurse, but we'd have to make a special shopping trip just to find the weirdest shirt possible for DH to wear!

  33. Blogger MomSmoo | 6:59 AM |  

    The nursing thing doesn't bother me. If someone were to come to MY house and do something that offended me, I would feel as though I had the right to ask them to stop or not do it. Why wouldn't that person have the right to ask me to NOT nurse with everyone around. I mean it isn't like she is asking her to not BF while at the party, just to do so in the house. My best friend's huband is weirded out by it, so when I was at his birthday party I nursed in the house, in a nice air conditioned room, without a million people chattering and disturbing the baby. I preferred it and would absolutely not be offended at all if someone asked me to step inside to nurse and provided me a place to do so. It is THEIR house and THEIR right to make that request.

    The shirt comment -- not THAT would piss me off. That has nothing to do with their comfort level at their house, so screw them. I would make my hubby were something nice and then have some outrageous t-shirt on instead! =)

  34. Blogger Wholly Mama | 8:06 AM |  

    While the email is horrendous, I would really focus on the fact that this is a little girls' birthday party and make the day about her. Not mom, not me, but "Addie". I would definately approach the mom with her request. Let her know how you found it odd, especially the t-shirt thing, as you don't really think Addie would mind that much, and your not responsible for your husbands' attire. But, I'd accomodate the nursing issue - go lay down in her bed and take a little snooze with baby (that's what I do at family functions, they wear me out!). Leave it up to hubby to do as he sees fit with the t-shirt request.
    I wouldn't stop having contact with my neice just because I think her mom's a little high-strung (believe me, I've dealt with this!)

  35. Blogger Catie | 8:27 AM |  

    I don't know if you have already seen this from "Ask Amy" but I think it fits this situation very well. I especially like the last line.

    From http://www.washingtonpost.com on June 13, 2007

    Dear Amy:

    More on the breast-feeding debate.

    Nobody will argue with the fact that breast milk is probably better for a baby. But why are these women so insistent that it be done publicly?

    Have they stopped making breast pumps? If a woman knows she is going to be out during feeding time, isn't it possible to fill a couple of bottles with pumped milk?

    I am as uncomfortable knowing that a woman is breast-feeding even if the mother is wearing a tent, as I would be with a couple groping each other with all their clothes on. It just isn't public entertainment.


    Pumping breast milk is a time-consuming process. So, for instance, a woman would have to spend maybe 45 minutes pumping a few ounces of milk to bottle-feed a baby later in the day, which takes another half-hour or so. And then, right around the time of that bottle feeding, the mother's breasts would be full, so she would have to pump again, which is foolish if your child is already with you (pumping is great for working moms).

    You're saying that there's absolutely nothing a woman can do to breast-feed her child that would satisfy your comfort level. You might feel better knowing that a mother's choice to breast-feed her baby has absolutely nothing to do with you.

  36. Blogger Sarahbear | 8:31 AM |  

    How incredibly rude of this person.

    Family, friend or otherwise, this is just not acceptable. You take your family and friends as they are, not mold them into something you think is perfect.

    I would first e-mail them back and explain to them that I thought their requests were absurd and uncalled for. I would tell her that I would not be attending the party because I think it's a waste of time considering I'd be hiding in another room away from the other guests for most of it. I would also comment that my husband is who he is and tell her that it's a friggin kid's birthday party, not a black and white formal dinner. It's 800 degrees outside and we'll all wear what makes us comfortable.

    Then I would tell her that it would be easier and more comfortable for me and my family to simply stop by sometime before or after the party to wish Addie a happy birthday and give her, her gift.

    And you better believe the next time I had a birthday party for one of my kids I'd come up with some strange requests for her. I'd make it some sort of crazy themed birthday party and ask her husband to wear a silly costume with something like 'you know how he is with his boring shirts'.

  37. Blogger Unknown | 8:50 AM |  

    What a conundrum. If it were my own family who sent me this email, I would have a very hard time resisting a very rude response. I would not visit someone who had the unbelievable gall to make these requests, and I'd have no problem telling this @#$%$ to shove her request up her #$% sideways. Seriously, I'm so offended that someone would ask this. Maybe I'm the only one who is equally offended by the covert breastfeeding request as the no weird T-shirt request.

    If the offending emailer were an in-law, I'd have a harder time dealing. I do go to the bedroom to nurse when anyone in my huusband's extended family is there. They have never requested that I do so, though. I just got the vibe that they'd wig out.

    And I'm so flabbergasted at the don't make the non-nursers feel guilty thing. If I'd been unable to nurse I'd be thrilled to see other moms make it happen. Like when I hear about home and non-medical births- i'm thrilled that they succeeded where I had complications. It's BS to hide nursing from formula users. It just reinforces the erroneous thinking that nursing is a bonus extra health boost that some supermoms do rather than the natural default way- we feed a human babies human milk.

    Oh, I'm just so hurt and enraged on behalf of this mama, her funky-styled husband, and lucky nursey baby!

  38. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:13 AM |  

    I don't know what I'd do about the nursing, it would totally depend on the age of my child, length of the party, etc... I would call the person who sent the letter and let her know that it was a problem for me and that maybe she should let the other moms that were unable to breastfeed know that there would be a nursing mother there, and if that would offend them the should not come.
    About the husband's shirt comment... maybe he should go and not wear any shirt at all. (This would be particularly funny if he had a very hairy chest) After that they may not find his clothing choices so offending. :)

  39. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:20 AM |  

    On the unable to nurse thing:
    I had several miscarriages before I was able to keep a pregnancy, and I had a friend at work who went through 8 years of infertility before she managed to conceive. We worked at an office staffed by women of a certain age and there was always someone pregnant or bringing in their new baby to show off. Was it hard and painful? Yes. Did it make us not want to see their babies? Absolutely not. Our difficulties sucked, and I won't deny locking myself in an empty office to cry on occasion. But I was never less than happy for the luckier women.

    If I could suck it up and deal with my pain after literally flushing my hoped for children down a toilet, women who are still able to provide adequate nutrition for their children certainly shouldn't begrudge anyone else their breastfeeding success.

    Also, other than our wedding day, I have never told my husband what to wear, and I would resent anyone who asked me to.

  40. Blogger Stacy | 9:33 AM |  

    WOW! That's really awful. The writer of the email sounds very very controlling. She is the kind of person that has to have control over every single aspect of every single thing. I would not attend. I would send a present andbe done with them.

    or show up with myself, and my baby all wearing lactivist t-shirts. Follow her wishes and have DH in something "normal". ;)

  41. Blogger MomTFH | 9:49 AM |  

    Wow. Offensive.

    I really don't like how she said breastfeeding at the party would make the birthday party not about the child but about making everybody uncomfortable.

    Isn't that taking it WAY too far? As if the child would care or notice? "Oh, the cake and balloons and presents and family and singing are all so nice, but ever since Auntie Nursey over there fed her baby, I just don't feel like I had a party. And don't get me started on Uncle Funny Shirt."

    Sounds like the party is all about MOM.

  42. Blogger mom of 5 | 10:06 AM |  

    Ok- here's my opinion: she could approach this several ways depending on the relationship she has with the person who sent it to her. I agree the most disturbing part is telling the husband what to wear.

    One way to approach it is (as someone else mentioned) to “forget” the request while at the party & breast feed anyway & let her husband wear what ever he wants.

    Another way “indulge” the shirt request: Let dad wear a “normal” shirt & have mom wear the “weird” shirt.

    Get some outrageous form of “cover-up” to use when feeding baby- so no one is uncomfortable (maybe a small tent –as depicted in the Hathor the Cow Goddess cartoon.) Does anyone sell a cover up with a cute message on the outside? Warning: Baby is eating! Or how about some of the messages The Lactivist shirts- these seem to be appropriate:)
    - That's my baby's lunch you're staring at
    - Fresh Milk served here!
    - Don't be Lactose Intolerant
    - Too lazy to bottle feed
    - Milk on tap
    - Dairy Diva
    Hey- there’s a great business idea- cover up’s with messages!

    Ask the host what would make her guests more uncomfortable: Breastfeeding in public or listening to a baby cry due to hunger? I hate to say this (or put an innocent child through this) but possibly go to the party & let baby cry until someone suggest you feed the child & then simply say ok & feed him. (I had someone suggest this to me once –I can’t remember why I had to make baby wait - & then get a “huge” surprise when they realized how I going to feed my baby. However, the people were SO happy baby stopped crying they didn’t say a thing about breastfeeding.)

    If the mom is discreet about her breastfeeding it is pretty likely that no one will even know that she is nursing unless they are “trying to get a closer look” at baby. (That doesn’t mean she has to cover up; it is very possible to nurse “uncovered” & not have any breast showing.)

    Currently, I’m finding the reasons people have a “problem” with my breastfeeding is that they can’t hold the baby, they can’t help feed the baby, or they have to “give up” the baby so I can feed her. I guess I have been pretty lucky!

  43. Blogger Unknown | 10:29 AM |  

    As a breastfeeding mom (of a one year now!!) and the wife of a man who owns almost nothing besides "wierd shirts", I am in a bind. The age of the nursling has to be a factor in the decision to go to the party. Personally, I hav enever had anyone anywhere say anything to me about where I am nursing. I do believe in the right of the homeowner to ask that nursing be done in a specified location. It is their property. go or not with this request. It is do-able for one part of the day.

    Now, the shirt thing... My hubby gets hell any time he wears a "respectable" shirt to family functions. They all know and accept his brand of humor. I think this request is over the line.

    My response would be in line with some others in that I would decline the invite to the party. "Hey, thanks for asking us to come, but since you obviously don't accept us as individuals, then we will collectively decline your offer. The gift is in the mail."

    No need to make the child suffer. I'd also include a "weird shirt" in my gift to her, just to make a point... Sometimes I can be a bitch like that.

  44. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:30 AM |  

    I think many of you are over reatcing, The request did not say she couldn't feed her child but that some discretion is requested. How can we ask others to respect us if we can't respect others wishes. This is the challange as a breast feeding mom. I personally feel that my stance as a lactivist would be irrelevant if I can't accept that there is tackful ways of doing things. Many do not feel the same way we do and we must make changes slowely and gracefully. I would go to support my family and the child's whose party it is. Again, why is the focus this email recipient and not the child whose party it is. If your friend does not go she is just selfish. Birthday parties for children are not the time to make a statement.

  45. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:31 AM |  

    I think Cairo Mama is 100% right.

    Honestly, I would probably be mad and offended if I received this email because I would see it as a personal attack. Since I'm not involved, I doubt it's intended as a personal attack and doesn't merit getting all worked up and mad. I think her request is a little rude, but I think it would be so much more inappropriate to openly defy her wishes. I think you have two choices: comply or not go.

  46. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:30 PM |  

    I think it depends on the relationship and as some have already said, it's about the child's party. If the host is uncomfortable, the person who is invited has to decide whether her inconvenience is worth her making a fuss about it. The recipient could also interpret it as 'wow this person feels comfortable enough with me to share her honest concerns with me so I'll respect her wishes and just laugh about it with hubby/friends later.'

    Since I don't know the personality of the sender, my guess is that they sent it by email (which loses a lot of tone) because they might not have felt brave enough (or worried how the recipient might have reacted) to call her up and say it to her.

    Often saying something to someone comes off less offensive than it comes off in email.

  47. Anonymous Anonymous | 12:31 PM |  

    I am the mother who received the email. The writer of the email was my sister in law- my husband's older sister. After receiving the email I called her and left her a message to call me. She called me later in the evening. We had a long conversation.

    My sister in law has also come to this blog and read the posts- she called my husband to tell him so.

    According to her, she has talked to everyone who is invited to the birthday party about the fact that I breastfeed, and each and every person there "doesn't want to see that". In addition, some of them would be offended and would immediately get up and leave were I to start nursing.

    She also said that I go around "whipping it out" and have my "kid attached for three hours". And all I do is talk about boobs, wear boob shirts, and have my "boob carnival".

    I told her I agree that it is her right to set the rules for her house as she sees fit. I don't understand though why she would talk to everyone she invited about the fact that I breastfeed. Is it really that important? Would anyone really even care? Did she or anyone else think I'm going to get up on a table, throw off my top, put my kid on and stuff my body in front of people's faces or something?

    I've nursed in front of many people in many places and never had a negative comment from a soul. Moreover, she has never seen me breastfeed so I'm not sure how she knows about my supposed technique.

    I told her I certainly do not want to ruin my niece's birthday party (something she said I would be doing), and since I cannot meet my child's needs and abide by her rules, I told her we will be unable to attend.

    You'd think that would be it, right? Well that was the end of the conversation we had. She then called her mom. Of course my mother in law immediately reacts and sends two emails- one suggesting I bottle up some milk and let other people feed my baby (so what am I supposed to do with the milk my breasts make during the party then? I'd be off some place pumping. I make a lot of milk so I'd be pumping more than once). She also said we were breaking up the family and laid into the usual guilt trip.

    I'm sorry, but I'm just not having it. I firmly believe that I am owed an apology, and moreover, the only way anyone could even get me thinking about attending the party now would be for my sister in law to again talk to everyone who claimed to be offended (so, EVERYONE), and tell them that there will indeed be a nursing mother there but to not pay any attention because it is normal, and anyway WE'RE HERE FOR NIECE'S BIRTHDAY PARTY so why are we talking about Auntie Boobie's boobs???

    Of course my husband now thinks we should go because not only would it look bad if we don't but maybe I could spite them by wearing a boob shirt anyway and nursing anyway and making a big huge fuss about it and saying "well sorry you won't see us while we're here because I have to feed the baby and it offends everyone so I have to go and hide while I do it."

    I don't see that as being useful because then it would be doing right what my sister in law doesn't want- taking the attention away from the birthday girl.

    I see no reason why her email even needed to be sent.

    Frankly, I was planning to go to the party, enjoy showing my baby around to the relatives she hadn't yet met, and feed her when she needed it. But then all of a sudden everyone got worried about my boobs.

    I never knew my boobs had so much power and influence.

    Maybe they should consider running for office.

  48. Anonymous Anonymous | 1:21 PM |  

    I agree with the commenter who said that this party sounds like it's all about MOM. I found the email extremely offensive, and I think your response hit the nail right on the head. People who are this rude to their own family don't deserve their company.

    I have a friend who has MS and is confined to a wheelchair. If I were orchestrating a birthday party for him, would I demand that all the attendees sit in wheelchairs as to avoid upsetting him because he can't walk? I think not. Also, my brother enjoys wearing T-shirts with inappropriate slogans on them, as is the fashion these days, but I wouldn't dream of telling him to put something else on before allowing him to come to my house. He's my brother and I love him no matter what he wears. Besides, I hardly doubt everyone's good time would be spoiled because they couldn't tear their eyes away from the shirt that says "Bikini Inspector" on it.

    It's a shame that what should be a fun event celebrating a little girl's birthday has to be tarnished by her mother's utter lack of tact and tolerance.


  49. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:02 PM |  

    Jennifer, I think that your suggestion is perfect. This is what I would do, except, I probably wouldn't even send a gift. I have a lot of obnoxious family members, and I honestly wouldn't ever think to invite them to a party and then tell them how to behave!
    If I was ever uncomfortable or fearful that they might do something offensive, and the opportunity was available, I just wouldn't invite them to the party. But nursing moms are welcome anywhere on my property no matter who's in the room.
    If someone was uncomfortable with the nursing, I'd make the uncomfortable person leave the room, not the mom and baby.

  50. Blogger Olive | 2:05 PM |  

    boob carnival? what is this woman, an 8 year old boy? (although it sounds like a fun place my husband would enjoy to be honest. nyuk nyuk)

    this whole situation now has been so hyped up that i can't fathom a peaceful outcome. if you nurse at the party it's going to cause a big to-do and if you go inside to nurse everyone will be aware of what happened and all the weird feelings involved. talk about the big white elephant in the room

    (not calling you nor your milk makers elephants by the way.)


  51. Blogger Ahmie | 3:02 PM |  

    Since the original recipient just posted that she called the offending family member and also heard about it from the MIL this wouldn't work, but my initial thought was "oops, my spam filter must have eaten your email, sorry" and leave if they actually had the balls to say something to my face afterwards.

    And I *have* cut off family over breastfeeding issues. My father has not seen my 3yo since he was 2 weeks old and may never meet his 2nd grandson (who is 2 weeks old now) because he let his wife scream at me for nursing in their living room. If my child - especially my NEWBORN - isn't welcome to EAT in your presence, we won't bother going to the trouble to BE in your presence (especially since my biological relatives can't be bothered to come visit me and I was always having to go out of my way - 300+ miles out of my way for 5 years - to see them, it's really not worth it to me... but this has been the way they've been through my entire life, never a strong relationship, so it's "easier" to cut them off than it would be for, say, my hubby to cut off his biological relatives who are really close-knit, even the ones that live on different continents!)

    New baby fussing, likely needs to eat again.

  52. Blogger RubyLaRose | 4:07 PM |  

    To Anonymous Mom (#47) -

    Wow! I'm so sorry that you're dealing with this! Things with families can always get a bit sticky because it seems that everyone puts their most selfish or immature foot forward. It seems that you're trying to be the bigger person and I think politely declining the invitation is the best thing to do. Your husbands family may be disappointed (or angry even) if you don't attend, but it seems that it will be an awkward situation for everyone. By sending that e-mail your SIL already took the focus away from her daughter and put it on you and your husband. It sounds like you have the support of your husband which is really great. Perhaps have him do all the dealings with his fam from now until this issues gets resolved (if it ever is)? Good luck with whatever you decide to do! And, btw, my husband said that if anyone in his family made a comment about the "weird" shirts he wears or my daughter breastfeeding they would get their teeth knocked in! :-)

    And I agree with the PP, "boob carnival"?? What is that? I'm sure my daughter AND husband would love that!!

  53. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:25 PM |  

    Sign Greg and Emmitt up for the "boob carnival!" I'm sure they'd both be in heaven.

    To note, I HAVE seen this person nurse. The phrase "whipping it out" sure didn't come to mind. ;)

    Ahmie, please, PLEASE email me your birth story! Been thinking about you and wondering how things went!

  54. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:26 PM |  

    Oh and Abby! Hi! Got Sam's email and thought it was too funny that you found your way here. (Abby is yet another person that I know offline who found this blog without me having told her about it...too crazy.)

  55. Blogger Kat | 5:07 PM |  

    Wow. Like many already said, I think that she is being very rude. It makes me so upset that there are such anal people in the world that think it's OK to make others feel like a wonderful thing, as BF is, is wrong. If it were me, I would not attend the party and I would make a point to inform her of why.

    Oh, and I also wanted to add that as a mommy to a preemie, I went through the extreme frustration and difficulty to start a BF relationship with my daughter. But even though it was hard, and even if I hadn't been able to BF, I would never have been offended to see someone else BF. Ugghhh...that's just a really innapropriate excuse for her to use.

  56. Blogger elderberryjam | 5:41 PM |  

    Absolutes (everyone coming to the party says it would make them uncomfortable) usually are untrue. She is using digs (tell your husband to leave his wierd shirts at home)(watching a nursing baby is like watching people making out in public). She has used analogies meant to cause guilt (people had premies and couldn't breastfeed their babies, and it would make them feel bad).

    Its overkill, already! Where did she get all this reasoning? Is she original enough to have come up with it herself?

    Situations like this warrant some stepping back from.

    This kid's mother is doing the pushing the issue, not the breastfeeding woman. The birthday child's mother has made it a huge issue; particularly if there is any truth to her talking to every single person invited about it. She is being socially aggressive and mean to back up her point.

    I'm trying to put myself in a position of feeling embarrassed by someone breastfeeding, to the point of wanting them to absolutely NOT DO IT around me, and feel justified about saying so. Even my 17 y/o son who asked me not to in front of his friends at first, no longer cares. I just can't imagine what that feels like. To feel that, as a woman, what would I have to think like? Well, it ain't pretty.

    This is not a nice person. They have no intention of being kind to their brother's sister, and they do not care if they hurt them - them being hurt is a minor inconvenience. A glimpse of a breastfed baby is more of an issue to them than family peace, not to mention the baby's and mother's comfort.

    The peace is there, if they will make it. Stand firm - over 50 posts here to back you up! Maybe we could crash the party! (Just kidding).

    What's the date? Maybe we could all have our own party. With chocholate fudge brownie sundaes.

  57. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:55 PM |  

    Thanks for the update Anonymous. After having spoken to her and getting the 'everyone would be uncomfortable' statement I think it's really she who is uncomfortable...probably most of the others wouldn't care. Plus as you said, you would have even gone to another room if she asked you nicely.

    I would definitely not want to go after hearing that. Maybe you can just send your husband wearing a boob carnival t-shirt to drop off the present (which would of course be a kid t-shirt that says "I'm a product of breastfeeding and my mom is teaching me not to be accepting of women who modestly provide nourishment to their babies") while you stay home or go to a park or go some place pleasant and nurse! :-)

    It sounds as if tensions would be too high if you attended at this point....

  58. Blogger Amanda | 6:00 PM |  

    Regarding Anon. 47's post (the recipient of the e-mail in question) it seems to me that by talking about the breastfeeding to all the party attendees, the mother of the birthday girl has effectively made this party All About Teh Boobage (TM) rather than about her little girls' party.

    This is the same woman who was apparently so scared that her e-mail recipient was going to make the gathering all about breastfeeding simply by feeding her child? I'm amazed that the e-mail writer can't see the utter hypocrisy of the situation.

    To poster 47, you need to do what's right for you. In this situation, I doubt anything you choose will be right for your husband's family. Talk about toxic in-laws. Usually I'm all about respecting others' homes and their comfort levels within their homes, but when approached so rudely by a family member, I'm afraid I'd forget that aspect of myself.

    Oh, and what's wrong with SIL that she can't tell her own brother what to wear? Goodness.

    Sorry... this just torqued me off.

  59. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:13 PM |  

    I think somebody - two in fact, are over reacting to this request. The person receiving the request and you, Lactivist Breastfeeder, who have posted it at the recipients request.

    Your posting has the appropriate answer. Just read it. I've copied it for you, "go in the house or away from the group to nurse". It appears that a sane reading of the request from the originator has the correct response that will coincide with the "mores" of the attending group. For the uneducated, "1.The established, traditional customs regarded by a social group essential to its preservation. 2.The accepted conventions of a group.", a standard dictionary definition.

    Why must we, as activists, regard every request contrary to our wishes as such an afront. It seems to me our path would be a little shorter and less bumpy to our goal, if we could calm the rhetoric and take into account the few occasional requests we may get from those who we care for.

  60. Blogger Amanda | 6:30 PM |  

    My thought is that Anon. 59 missed the tone of the entire e-mail.

    Like I said in my previous post, I'm normally all about respecting the comfort levels of others, even when I personally might find them silly. My own mother-in-law feels that breastfeeding is best done in private, and in her home that's exactly what I do. It's her house, her rules... I'm fine with that.

    But in this case the SIL brought up the whole breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere thing, plus threw in the guilt-motif of the mothers of premies getting upset because they couldn't breastfeed. And then, topping it all off and ignoring her very own statementthat she wanted this party to be about her daughter and not breastfeeding, she claims she called everyone invited to the party and discussed the issue with them!

    Way to avoid making it all about your daughter rather than the breastfeeding. And now the party is going to be about why Auntie Boobie isn't there rather than about the birthday girl.

    This doesn't even begin to touch the e-mailing SIL's comment about her own brother's typical choice of shirts. If the shirts had a poor language issue I could see it. Just as we guard our mouths around small children so should we guard the lettering that adorns or chosen clothing. But seriously, claiming his normal shirts would ruin the family pictures?

    It sounds like SIL will be much happier without poster 47 and her brother there. That way she'll get all the drama she wants over their lack of attendance without having to be made "uncomfortable" by the sight of a mother nursing her child.

    Good grief.

  61. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:18 PM |  

    Wow, so at post #26 I was all about the forgiving and trying to accommodate for the sake of the next generation, etc. etc., but from the follow-up post it's clear this is a no-win for the mama and there will be *no respect* for the whole breastfeeding process coming from the in-laws in this matter.

    The suggestion that you bring a bottle and let other family members feed the baby shows that the MIL doesn't understand that at feeding time you'll have to go pump to avoid engorgement, which takes a. long. time. (I pumped when I went back to work - 6 times/day!!! - and it only worked because I got the hands-free set up so I could keep working, taking conference calls - oh that noise? er, they're doing the landscaping just outside the window, yeah on the third floor, weird) and then there's the storing the breastmilk in her SIL's fridge until it's time to go to keep it fresh and the cleaning of the pump equipment in her kitchen while SIL's trying to deal with party details and there's the funky equipment and nipple cups set out on her counter on paper towels so they can safely air dry? I doubt it!

    Frankly, the calling every attendee to poll them about their comfort level re BFing is just bizarre and suggests an unhinged control-freak. And then she runs to her mom to intervene on her behalf? Is she 12??? Grow up. It's breastfeeding. Get over it. Whoever said this party is all about the MOM hit the nail on the head. You aren't dealing with a rational human here, and my heart goes out to you for the long row to hoe you have ahead of you over the years dealing with this relative who's not only self-absorbed, insensitive and wildly controlling - but just plain batty. Hopefully you'll come to a place where you can laugh at the shear ridiculousness of it all.

    This has gone way beyond being about BFing now (I don't think it really ever was) and is more about this person's need to control others and create drama and be a victim. Whoopee.

  62. Blogger Heather Dudley | 8:14 PM |  

    This whole thing clearly has little to do with the guests' comfort than the woman's need to control what happens at her party, and that the niece remains the center of attention at all times.

    I'm very blessed that I have family and friends who have never questioned my decision to breastfeed (although one or two SWORE I'd go to formula because it was easier, it was never a 'do it or else' kind of thing). Even when it clearly made some of them uncomfortable, they never said a word.

    My cousin, the closest thing I have to a sibling, once walked in on my nursing out of the way of the crowd (easily distractible baby) and freaked... not because it made him uncomfortable, but because he thought it would make ME uncomfortable.

    I wish more people would be worried -truly worried- about OTHER people's comfort. I assured my cousin I was fine with his presence, and he never had a moments trouble with it after that. :) Even when accidentally flashed!

  63. Blogger Shay | 5:26 AM |  

    Why can't she be be grown up enough to say "I am uncomfortable and I do not want you nursing at the party. I couldn't nurse in public for whatever reason and I don't want anyone else to either." Blaming preemie babies is cowardly.

    As for calling EVERY last person going to the party HAS done exactly what the E-mail sender said she didn't want, the party to be all about the boobs.

    What's more is the nursing mother probably would have gone inside. Not only because it's hard to nurse a distracted baby but for 10-15 minutes to chill out away from the guests, which is good for both mom and the baby. It's being MADE to hide...

  64. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:00 AM |  

    I wasn't much bothered by the shirt request, just because it's customary for a host to establish what is appropriate dress for a party. If a host can say an event is "formal" or "casual" or whatever, I suppose this isn't too much different.

    Asking a guest to hide the fact that she's feeding her baby is another matter, though. I agree with the original comments; if we have to hide breastfeeding because mothers of premies might be hurt, why not leave spouses at home out of consideration for widows, hide babies to avoid offending the childless? For that matter, the hostess might ask that babies be bottle-fed in private, to avoid offending her nursing friend. This isn't a reasonable request, and I would just tell her so.

  65. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:26 AM |  

    I'm all about sensitivity and accommodation too... I make a point of being discreet, and leaving the room if people are uncomfortable. If my SIL or sister asked me to nurse elsewhere I'd do it. But w/ the update what bothers me so much about this is that the writer of the email is upset simply because the subject is a breastfeeder. This is how I look at it: substitute "I polled all my guests and they are uncomfortable being around a black person so could you please be black in the house..." or "I polled everyone and they are uncomfortable with fat people so could you please not be openly fat at the party?" How would you react to that?

    Now, I absolutely don't connotate BFing w/ the color of your skin or the shape of your body. BUT, reading about the SIL I completely get the vibe that she is upset that this woman is a *breastfeeder* and the issue is that she is a breastfeeder, not how discreetly she does it. This completely comes across to me as an issue of discrimination against someone who threatens or upsets you just based on who they are, rather than a request to be discreet.

    I'm sorry, anonymous, that you are stuck w/ this. Since your SIL has never seen you BF I assume that you aren't that close anyway and that there's not a lot to work with here!

  66. Blogger Farmgirl | 9:16 AM |  

    To Anonymous Mom - I had to share your post with my husband - we both sympathize with you and support you, in whatever your decision ends up being! And we both cracked up at the "running for office" comment - my husband's words = "I'd vote for them."

    If I were bold enough, I'd stay home but send a gift - one of the WEIRD t-shirts from the Lactivist site! :)

  67. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:22 AM |  

    Initially I was a little taken-aback at the requests, but figured that it was an easily solved situation. Hubby can be informed of the shirt request and he can wear whatever and decided whether or not you want to be in another room to nurse.

    However, after reading the follow-up., all I can say is WOW. I cannot believe that the subject of mom and baby nursing was brought up with EVERY SINGLE PERSON attending the party! Talk about making someone uncomfortable! I think that was completely uncalled for and I would not be showing up for the party. I believe that was stepping over the line.

  68. Blogger mAsOn & tErrI's mOm | 10:43 AM |  

    I totally agree with what you said...reassuring them that I wouldn't breastfeed in the pressence of their guest and amy hub wouldn't wear a weirdo shirt to thier party...(b/c we wouldn't attend!!!!)
    and shoot to the post with the gift.

    beep. . .beep....beep!!!!

  69. Blogger Carrie Willard | 10:59 AM |  

    If I got a letter like that from a friend, I would take it as a big neon sign that this is not a friend. I would never ever make a request like that of a friend!

    I wouldn't make a big deal of it, but I just wouldn't go, and I wouldn't pursue friendship with this boundaryless and unloving and tactless person.

  70. Anonymous Anonymous | 5:12 PM |  

    Where is this party to be held--Stepford? Give me a break! I suspect that anon. 59 is the original sender of the email. I wouldn't go, but I would try to schedule a time to celebrate with the birthday girl (sans mom, if possible).

  71. Blogger heather@it'stwinsanity | 5:37 PM |  

    Like you suggested, I'd stay home. Why go to a party where you can't enjoy yourself or even BE yourself? A friend wouldn't ask a friend to change their shirt or nurse their baby in hiding.

  72. Blogger Sava's momma | 7:26 PM |  

    Gosh! If I received that email I would likely not go to the party or send a gift. Of course you don't want to punish the child who's having the party so I guess the right thing to do would be to send a gift along with a note saying how sad you were that you couldn't make it due to the fact that feeding your child was frowned upon in their house.

  73. Blogger Slackermommy | 7:41 PM |  

    You've.got.to.be.kidding.me! I hope your friend dumped her. Who needs friends like that. This reminds me of how my in-laws treated me during my pregnancies. My SIL had infertility issues so they did not acknowledge my pregnancies and expected me to not talk about or touch my belly around her.

  74. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:26 AM |  

    I think we are all in agreement that the SIL, however rude and thoughtless the idea might have been, had the right to request that the mother nurse discreetly while in her home, just as the mother has the right to decline to go anywhere that would make such a request. But the entire tone of her email - including the guilt-trip and mentioning the shirts - and her subsequent behavior made it clear that this had nothing to do with breastfeeding, and everything to do with being a complete control-freak narcissist.

    The only thing to do, really, is to say "I respect your right to make rules in your home, but as I'm sure you understand my baby's health and comfort come first. I'm sorry we won't be able to attend." Anything after that is EXACTLY what she wants, which is drama. Everyone's talking about her: it's the classic game of the narcissist, and as long as everyone is playing she wins.

    And the shirt thing? Is just rude and stupid. Obviously. I pity the poor girl growing up with a mother like this. Clearly this party is NOT about the girl, who would surely rather celebrate with her family, but instead she gets the promise of awkward, artificial family photos sure to be unmarred by funny shirts or babies. So sad.

  75. Blogger Alexis | 2:12 PM |  

    The mom (throwing the party) sounds incredibly immature, and I agree with the others who've posted that she is the one with the problem.

    Now, IF there was a family member who was going to make a huge scene at the party, I could see very gently asking a BFing mom to nurse in private so that the little girl's party wouldn't be interrupted. (Though I'd be more likely to just not invite the scene-maker!)

    And IF your DH had a history of wearing really offensive T-shirts (like the one my BIL has of one stick figure giving another oral sex), then I might also say something.

    But it doesn't sound like this is the case at all. I'd skip the party.

  76. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:01 PM |  

    Hi Anonymous- and Anonymous's SIL if you're reading this:-)

    My only response to my sister in law if she made a request like this would be- "Well due to your request, I can only assume that any food or beverages that are being served at the party will be eaten/drank in private as well. Will we all be drawing numbers for bedrooms/bathrooms when the cake has been cut?"

    The last time I checked, people are usually accustomed to putting a child's needs before their own. Hence the need for a birthday party and having it be the child's special day. Are the needs of a baby to EAT any less important that the feelings of immature adults to be comfortable. It just makes me so sad that some people honestly believe that it is perfectly acceptable to make requests like this. I'm very sorry that you've had to go through this and I hope that your family realizes how hurtful this sort of thing can be.

    While I agree that everyone has the right to decide what is acceptable in their own home, feeding a child the best food available to them and getting grief for it is just so ridiculous. ESPECIALLY from family.

  77. Blogger alimum | 10:02 PM |  

    Anonymous' SIL: If you are still reading this, I am sure you realize that many people think you made a rude request and then compounded it with your phone conversation with Anonymous. From what we have heard here, it sounds like you are the sort of person who puts a lot of value in how things appear and want things to be "normal" (no one can breastfeed, no "weird" t-shirts).

    That you would make such a big deal out of your sister-in-law feeding her child and imply that people would actually leave if she fed her child-and that you would stand by those people instead of your blood relatives says a lot about the content of your character.

    The fact that you place such things above and beyond human compassion and love is very sad. If you have read the Harry Potter books, the person you most resemble is Aunt Petunia. Think about that. Is that who you want to be?

  78. Blogger Elizabeth F. | 5:43 AM |  

    Well, I'm a little bit late...

    It seems really sad to me that "family" would have to be sacrificed because of the way you choose to feed your baby, doesn't it? There are a lot of things that we have to swallow for the sake of preserving family. This, however, seems like the SIL not only has an issue with the BFing, but also WHO you guys ARE. The t-shirt thing is just the icing on the cake. It also sounds like SHE has issues with the BFing and is using her friends as an excuse. I would definitely NOT GO, probably not send a gift. I would send her an email back and give her my opinion about the situation and tell her how hurt you were by the situation. How she has made you feel uncomfortable (since she cares so much about the comfort of others). After this blows over...I would try to work through this, b/c you don't want to look back 5 years from now and be reminded that family ties were severed b/c of this. You won't be breastfeeding forever. But, you want them to accept you for who you are and I would make that perfectly clear in your communications. Good Luck!

  79. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:10 AM |  

    Hey guys! I'd love for you all to come to a party at my house!* It'll be tons of fun and we'll have a great time.

    *Please don't come unless you wear sneakers. One of my friends has high arches and it hurts her feet to wear heels. So she's really sensitive about people who can wear them and I'd rather her not feel uncomfortable.

    *Don't mention the sun because one of my friends is albino and is sensitive about the fact that she can't get a tan. Actually, if you have a tan, please stay outside in the backyard while my friend is at the party.

    *We're planning on taking some pictures, so if you're prone to red-eye in photographs, please just step to the side when we're all posing for the camera. You'll ruin the shot.

    *I have a friend who just lost 100 lbs. and can't have any sugar on her diet. So if you must eat the cake (which we're going to cover with a tent so she can't see it), please eat it in the designated "sugar-friendly" areas around the house.

    P.S. I've already called all the other attendees and talked about you, so be prepared to have all eyes on you the entire time, no matter what you do. Hope you don't feel uncomfortable! But totally come! It'll be fun! Love ya!

  80. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:48 AM |  

    I didn't read through all the comments, so this may have been said before.

    Since it is her house and I think the request to nurse in a bedroom should be honored. I don't let my children run in my house. When friends come over, I don't let them run in my house either. Yes, I nurse my children and I let my friends nurse their children in my house, but my point is this: with lots of company and crazy birthday stuff going on she needs to make ALL the guests comfortable - or as many as possible. I don't have a big problem with the request to leave the room when she nurses. And a quiet heads up private request was just fine - it's better than a scene at the party by ANYONE.

    The T-shirt thing - uhm, so out of line! She should have sent out formal invites (maybe she did) and had a little note on them for everyone that said something like:
    time - yada yada
    date - blah blah
    dress - business casual ( which implies no t-shirts or something that made it clear) - this would have been perfectly acceptable.

    I think as a response to the request about the t-shirt and the singling out of the situation, I'd opt not to go. I'd give the child a gift and let the mother know that those requests (but focus on the shirt thing) were hurtful and a bit out of line.

  81. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:05 AM |  

    Okay......I am tired of the "just put it in a bottle" argument when it comes to breastmilk.

    My PIS cost more than $300. Add to that the cost of bottles, extra pump stuff, storage bags, brushes for cleaning, etc. and you get a whole lot of cost. It's not as simple to just "put it in a bottle." Besides that, after all that is the cleanup (supplies and ass-pain) for the pump and bottle.

    No way I'm getting a cheap handpump for $20 either. Why would I bruise and pinch myself for somebody else's comfort?

    If I were a guest at somebody's house I would probably look for a private location to nurse my baby. BUT - to call around and poll people on what they would do if a woman were to breastfeed in their presence is just plain wrong. People need to realize it is just not that big of a deal.

  82. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:05 PM |  

    After reading post 59, I felt that I should add something about activism.

    Those of us who are here in support of the Lactivist and consider ourselves activists for breastfeeding and breastmilk do not expect the road to be smooth. We expect bumps, such as this. It's sad though, because we wish that our bumps could be smoothed out if it were for others to just be more understanding. But we can't depend on the rest of the world to "get it" because that's what we're working for. This situation may SEEM blown out of proportion to a few, but to the mother who has been singled out, it is her LIFE, meaning that this is what is happening to her. I don't think we can make it seem MORE important than it is to her. She wants family unity just as her sister-in-law claims to, but the difference is, she was pounced on by someone who clearly doesn't understand. And unfortunately, those who have been put in that situation don't feel like there's much chance that they can be a part of the family, at least, not while they're nursing an infant. But maybe when their kids are grown, the rest of the family will act more civilly toward the former nip-er and nip-ee. Because they'll actually be able to be in the same room without being "udderly" offended. (sorry for the puns, just trying to lighten the mood)

    So it's not us who are making the road bumpy, we just have to step over the bumps that are put in front of us by those with a lack of understanding, social grace, and manners.

    And to be honest, I found the t-shirt 'request' much more offensive, but the entire email could have been avoided, along with the calls to other invitees, if the sil would have just called her bro and had a real conversation. I believe that this kind of behavior is called cowardice.

  83. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:53 AM |  

    I am not bothering to read all the comments. Wow. So sorry if I am being redundant!

    I would have said exactly what you your hypothetical response was. I don't know that I would have been thoughtful enough to drop a gift in the mail, but I would not have gone.

    I am all for politeness. In fact, I am probably over the top in that regard. But I am also beyond the age when I think I need to change who I am or pretend to be something I am not to appease other people's weird ideas.

    People are free to not invite me to things if they don't like my lifestyle. They are NOT free to ask my to change my nature, my lifestyle, my fashion, my parenting, etc.

  84. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:02 AM |  

    Oh, and for record, I have been asked (in a subtle way) to nurse in another room. At the time I was young and insecure with nursing so I complied. It made ME feel uncomfortable, ashamed, and embarrased but no one thought twice about the discomfort I suffered as the nursing mother. I will NEVER comply with such a request again. I will NEVER again acknowledge that breastfeeding is unnatural, weird, gross, sexual, or akin to using the bathroom (the favorite comparison these days). It is NONE of those things.

  85. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:07 AM |  

    I would also forward this email to the whole family, but I am evil ;o)

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