I had my first of two breastfeeding classes last night. It was very informative, and very uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable in the sense that we spent the entire time talking about boobs and watching the instructor demonstrate techniques with a fake stuffed boob and a baby doll with mouth agape, but uncomfortable in that I was the only pregnancy after infertility case and the instructor seemed to have zero training in tact.
I went into this class prepared to treat myself like all the other “normal” pregnant ladies. As hard as I work to be an activist for infertility awareness, sometimes you just want to blend into the crowd so you can focus on learning.
Things were ok until the trainer made a “joke” about her husband doing a breastfeeding session for her one night during which she never woke up. Two hours later she awoke with a start and instantly freaked out saying, “HE DIED!” And then the instructor and the other attendees started to laugh. Of course her baby was not dead!
As someone who has seen miscarriage, still birth and infant death over and over in this community this “joke” really burned. YOU NEVER MAKE LIGHT OF A BABY OR FETUS DYING. You just don’t. It’s the same as you never joke about your spouse dropping dead from a heart attack. You just don’t do that. I drew a deep breath and let the “joke” slide- determined that I would continue to pretend I’m “normal” and get as much from the class as possible.
Next on my list of very uncomfortable moments was when she went around the room asking each woman if she was going to stay home with their baby. I was the last in the circle and the ONLY person who will have to go back to work. One woman actually gasped when I said our baby would be going to childcare because we are moving to NYC where we have no family support. “Oh, well,” the instructor said to me and then turned to the others and cheered, “GO MOMS!”
I’m so not kidding. You guys, I would give my right foot to stay home with my child. (This is a huge statement because that damn right foot has been through hell after an injury and only recently stopped hurting). I would love nothing more than to stay home with Chicken until he/she goes to school, and then only work while s/he was away. And what is with the cheering for the other moms? Does the fact that I have to go back to work make me less a mom? I don’t think so.
This comment sent me to the bathroom to compose myself. I reminded myself that I was taking this class at a fancy studio with a lot of women with huge diamond rings on their fingers. Their husbands are not academics struggling to find tenured work. Even with all the help from the Professor’s family (and believe me, there is an embarrassing amount of help) we would not be able to afford my staying home long-term in NYC. So I let it go – we are different people from different socioeconomic groups.
And then the doozie came. The instructor said that breastfeeding very rarely fails due to true insufficient supply. She said only 5% of women have insufficient supply and the second a doctor labels you as having one you NEED to find a lactation consultant to evaluate your latch, feeding/pumping schedule, etc. Encouraging, right? Eh, then she went on to say “The only time you see a true insufficient supply is when there is some weird hormonal problem.” That’s a real quote, y’all. “Weird hormonal problem.”
I could not keep my mouth shut any longer.
“What exactly do you mean by weird hormonal problem?” I asked.
She kind of stumbled around not really saying anything so I continued, “For example, this is an IVF pregnancy (I point to my belly) and I have PCOS. Does PCOS count as a weird hormonal problem?”
“YES! Yes, that is a weird hormonal problem and… well, I don’t really know what to tell you accept good luck.”
WHAT? Are you kidding? You are lactation consultant and you can’t give me any information on my “weird hormonal problem?” I asked a few more questions and when it became clear that I was not going to get any guidance from her I gave up and sat quietly for the remainder of the class. Maybe I’ll take myself and my “weird hormonal problems” to another breastfeeding class in hopes of finding some actual support.
PCOS not is an uncommon problem, nor is infertility. The way this “experienced and respected” lactation consultant acted towards them, though, makes me wonder if she has ever worked with an infertile before. Or do infertiles just check their baggage at the door once pregnancy is achieved and/or baby is born? I’m just not that kind of gal. I went through two years of mild struggle when compared to many other women in this community, all of whom went out of their way to support me during my journey. I feel it is my duty to give back to this community by sharing my story and raising awareness. Moments like last night are stark reminders of just how far we have to go before infertility is truly recognized and respected as a disease. I will not sit quietly again.
I’m not sure if I’ll return to the second part of this course. Most likely, I will because part two is the portion that talks about pumping and preparing those of us tragic figures who “must go back to work” to leave their child with another. I also think I’ll look into other breastfeeding classes in town and see if I can find some genuine support for my “weird hormonal problem.” Last night I came home full of spit and fire, ready to pen this lady a letter and send it once we move to NYC. Luckily I was too tired and passed out with my lights on instead. I still might do this once I cool off a bit. Someone needs to bring her insensitivity to light, and remind her that one in eight couples struggle with infertility and I guaran-damn-tee that I’m not the first woman to sit through her class, miserably uncomfortable by her statements.
Do you have PCOS? Were you able to breastfeed successfully? Anyone else been made miserably uncomfortable in one of these classes? Did you stand up for yourself?