Dear nurse of my son,

Although I really think you’re a good pediatric nurse and truly value how nice you are to my son, I was wondering if you could maybe be half as nice to the moms that come with their babies to your practice? 

I know you’re very pro breastfeeding and probably you should be pro in your position since the pediatrics association recommends breastfeeding for at least two years. I get that, I mean wouldn’t it be amazing if all mamas could be breastfeeding their child for two years? But you being critical and judgmental on if and how long we moms breastfeed isn’t really helping anyone. And besides, two freaking years? Do you know how long that is? No, you don’t, because you have never breastfed anyone. Even if we wanted to, that’s not really feasible for some of us.

Since first-time moms trying to get the breastfeeding going are already the most stable and most secure people on the planet, your approach is not really helping. You can’t imagine how many times you made me cry because the breastfeeding didn’t go too well, my baby was underweight and you kept telling me every few days that I had to try harder because I had to do what was best for him.

You made me feel like a failure because apparently, I was doing something wrong because I sure didn’t have enough milk to get my baby back on track for his weight. You made me feel that the pain I had for weeks every time my son latched on (which was every freaking hour!) was just part of being a good mom and that the fact that my nipples were so destroyed and bleeding that even putting a bra or a t-shirt on was hurting like hell was a sacrifice I had to make. You made me feel like a complainer when I told you that this whole breastfeeding thing maybe wasn’t for me since my son was such a slow drinker and had to gain weight basically meaning I had 40 minute breaks in between feeding sessions, day and night, and I was completely exhausted. Instead of consoling me, you looked at the black circles under my eyes and told me this was my life right now. That a pregnancy wasn’t just 9 months, it was at least 18 months, that I was a kangaroo who had to keep her baby in her pouch 24 hours a day. 

Don’t you think this whole new mom gig was already challenging enough? Did you really think that I wasn’t already an emotional wreck without your judging and great advice of acting like a kangaroo and basically forgetting about every possible self-care?  You probably don’t know since you don’t have any kids yourself but still, can you at least try to imagine what it’s like and how hard these first weeks can be?

And I can’t even envision how “good” my hairdresser must have felt when you told her son that “his mom doesn’t want the best for him” because she decided not to breastfeed. I mean, seriously, how dare you?

When I decided to stop breastfeeding after 8 months, instead of feeling proud of myself for keeping up with it so long despite the big problems in the first couple of months, I felt guilty. Guilty that I “already” gave up and wasn’t up for continuing until my son was two years old. I was nervous for his next checkup because I knew you wouldn’t be happy with this decision and you would let me know. 

I know it’s my own fault.  I should not have let you get to me like that. I shouldn’t have taken your “advice” so seriously. I should have been stronger and made my own decisions. But you know what, as a first-time mom who has no clue what she’s doing, who is exhausted and feels so insecure (and let’s not get started about hormones), I just believed that you knew what was best for my son.  But one thing I know for sure, if there will be a next time that I come with a newborn to the checkups, I will be the one in charge of deciding what is best. I will make the decision if I breastfeed or not and if so, for how long. So just save yourself the effort and start minding your own breasts instead of mine. 

Thank you!

Tineke Franssen

Tineke Franssen is a working mom abroad that is trying to keep her sanity amongst cultural clashes both at work and at home (Spanish parents in law anyone?). When she is not in the office or working through piles of laundry, you can find her drinking wines with friends, watching Grey´s Anatomy, playing fieldhockey or writing on her blog http://workingmommyabroad.com/