Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An open letter to Life & Style...

Photo: Life & Style Magazine

I'm sure you thought this was eye-catching, or funny, or somehow cute. I'm sure whomever wrote it thought, oh, here's a pithy one-liner, let's make fun of the hippy vegan and her crazy parenting ways. I'll admit, the picture of Alicia pre-chewing her son's food raised my eyebrow, but that was all the time I had to spare giving that any thought. And you are correct on one point - her milk-sharing program is not new. However, let's step beyond the blatant offensive racism in your allusion to wet-nursing slaves and discuss the real issues here.

I am not a lactivist. Personally, I don't care how someone feeds their child, as long as there is feeding of the child involved. You want to use formula, go ahead. My son received supplemental formula at night, as does my daughter occasionally. You want to nurse until your kid is four - more power to you because I could never have done that. What I am for is choice. I chose to nurse my son because I believe in the benefits of breastmilk- he never latched, so I pumped and he received my milk for a year. I intended to nurse my daughter, hopefully at the breast, at least by pumping. However, that choice was taken away from me in my 22nd week of pregnancy, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Among the myriad other decisions that I had to make after diagnosis was one most pregnant women don't have to think about - how was I going to feed this child? Yes, I could have used formula, and I don't think the world would have ended, but considering this baby was going through chemo with me, I desperately wanted her to at least have all of the benefits that her brother had. I was introduced to a world most women don't know about until they need it - donor milk. My exposure to donor milk previously had been through celebrities who adopted babies and purchased milk from milk banks at prices I as a mere mortal, would never be able to afford. After reaching out to a blogger I follow for information, and finding out about such sites as Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies, I have been provided more help with acquiring donor milk for my daughter than any one person deserves to have. I have rarely had to worry about the amount of milk in my deep freezer,whereas other fellow moms who have fought cancer while pregnant have had to beg, plead and pray to keep their freezers stocked. These women who pump extra to donate to people they mostly do not know - women with adopted littles, women who have had surgery or are on contraindicated medication, women who have cancer - are my heroes. Any mother who has pumped knows that it is not easy, it is time consuming, can be painful - and to do that for a stranger is beyond amazing to me. They gave me a modicum of peace in a very dark time - they gave me choices back.

I just rocked my baby to sleep with her bottle of donated milk. She is 9 months old today. She is beautiful, healthy, and happy.

So Life&Style, not only are your facts incorrect - I'm am pretty certain wet nursing, and then pumping to donate, has been occurring since the Civil War-  but you mocked something that is dear to many of us and you belittled a beautiful gift that women give to each other. Alicia - thank you for giving women another avenue of choice - you are a class act. Life&Style, you should take note - classiness never goes out of style.


  1. Wonderfully written. I desperately hope someone was chastised for that. Silly, stupid, dumb, offensive, hurtful, harmful, and at the very least, poorly researched.