I went to a rare breakfast out with my family yesterday. I live in Broward County, Florida. Lots of older people live here. The New York style deli we chose is a favorite with the retirees.
On this particular morning, there were two men, sitting with separate parties, who were Holocaust survivors. How did I know? I didn’t make an assumption based on their age, accents, or anything like that. Both seemed to be enjoying their breakfast and the company around them. One of the nice men picked up a piece of Z’s toy that he had dropped on the floor, and handed it to him with a smile, his arm outstretched with a large tattooed number running up the forearm. Both men had these tattoos. They both still carry a constant reminder of the horror that was very real for them, their families, and their culture.
I know by now that the topic of breastfeeding is touchy, to say the least. I get reminded again and again that some people are way too caught up in their own issues to be able to have a decent discussion about feeding babies, and the fact that I continue to discuss these issues means that I volunteer to be the recipient of a lot of misplaced anger. It is a health decision with many factors, not a moral decision. Just like many decisions we make before, during, and after the births of our children, many involve seemingly choosing a side in a non-existent battle. We are all mothers.
I do not mean to discount any negativity anyone has felt because of their feeding choice. I have been a lactation consultant. I have heard the stories and been there with the moms. I have also been torn a new one on many occasions, usually online, when I wasn’t passing any judgment on anybody. Even though every major health organization supports breastfeeding as the healthiest choice for children, the minute I bring up feeding babies, there is a small minority that will howl before they listen.
I am OK with that. I realize that being involved in birth and parenting means talking about some very sensitive topics. Some people may not want to be in a dialogue about them, and they don’t have to be. Some people may want to be in an angry dialogue about them, and I can duck out when they get hostile. But, please, folks, don’t call me a nipple nazi. As long as we keep the persecution in perspective, I can just walk away as I always do. I got a vivid reminder of why I feel so strongly about this yesterday.