Four-week old babies have no patience, especially in a quiet corner of the public library while her toddler sisters climb bookshelves like trapeze artists scouring for a Daniel Tiger book we haven't read yet. With a burp cloth draped over my shoulder, I cradled my hangry newborn in my left arm and one-handedly pried the lid off her bottle in my other.
As soon as the bottle's plastic nipple met her mouth, all was right in our calm area of the library.
Until that woman looked at me, that is.
We were sitting on a carpeted bench near the kids' corner with puppets and bright-colored blocks between us. And through her thick-framed glasses, the middle-aged woman said, “You have a hard time breastfeeding?"
With tired eyes, I looked at her. Perhaps I misunderstood.
She waited for me to respond.
“Nah, I didn't even try," I said.
As I muttered those words I saw dozens of books falling from the ceiling tiles. My two giggling toddlers—as if on cue—were tossing piles of paperbacks into the air like confetti.
I instinctively jolted from that carpeted bench while juggling my newborn, her burp cloth and bottle—with formula. I had no time to offer that woman an explanation. This multitasking mama had a paperback party to bust up.
When every Haitian-Creole, Hindi, and Japanese folk and fairy tale was returned neatly to their designated shelf, I walked back over to the corner of formula-feeding shame.
That woman—whoever she is—was gone.
I had no opportunity to elaborate why I chose not to breastfeed my daughter. And why I'm proud of it.
I wanted to tell her I didn't think twice about inverted nipples or whipping out my boobs on demand.
I didn't have to battle with insurance companies for pump coverage or figure out when and where I could pump efficiently and comfortably in the office.
I didn't bother shopping for nursing bras or scour the internet for tips to increase my supply.
I didn't need to look up ways to ease the engorgement that housed my bulging jugs of liquid gold because the pain would leave as fast as it came on.
I didn't buy nipple shields or creams or nursing pads or nipple balms.
I didn't pencil in appointments with the local La Leche League or put out feelers for lactation consultants to help with latch problems or offer tips for surviving overnight cluster feeds.
I wasn't concerned about developing plugged ducts or mastitis.
I didn't pump around the clock to stock the deep freeze with breastmilk bags to last through my transition back to work.
I didn't bother with any of this because I simply didn't want to.
So, to the woman who unapologetically assumed I had problems breastfeeding my daughter because I dumped two scoops of powdered formula in my baby's bottle: I did not have any problems breastfeeding because I didn't even attempt it.
And my daughter is healthy, fed and growing. That's all that matters.
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