“Reading your site made me feel more empowered than I had ever felt before.”


Readers don’t see it, but I get a lot of email thanking me for helping women feel better about the choices they know are best for them. I suspect that this letter,  from a reader who prefers to remain anonymous, may resonate with a lot of women.

I had my son when I was 22, did not have many friends who also had children, and was fairly clueless as what I should expect when it came to birth and child care. I almost exclusively relied on BabyCenter as my go-to reference for all things baby related. I was certainly not prepared for the pain I would experience during birth (who is) as I had a failed epidural, partly related to a skin condition I have which makes me resistant to local anaesthetics.

After my son was born, I did not cry tears of joy, I did not count to make sure if he had 10 fingers and toes. I felt like I had been completely run over. He had meconium present when my water broken so he was not able to be placed on my chest. I stared across the room at him, thankful for it all to be over, but not really able to experience the joy of the moment.

I had planned on breastfeeding with no concern as to whether it would be an issue for me. It was an issue. I fed and fed and fed. I had lactation consultants that told me it was “normal” for him to feed for hours on end. I asked for him to be taken to the nursery so I could sleep, but I might as well have kept him in the room as he was always hungry. I refused to use formula. On my last day, I expressed frustration and one nurse of all the medical professionals I had encountered looked at me and said, “it can be horrible, and painful, and it’s not easy. I breastfed all my kids but don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy.”

When I got home it only took a day or so to figure out something wasn’t working. He cried constantly, and never seemed to be satisfied after eating. My husband convinced me to give him some formula and he ate a 2 oz bottle in under 5 minutes at only a few days old, which he promptly threw up. I cried because I didn’t recognize how hungry he was, I cried because I was defective.

I went to see hospital lactation consultants (free at the time) who were shocked that my breasts had no heft, produced nothing when squeezed, and were soft. They were actually very helpful and recognized that I had a legitimate issue. I was given the Medela supplemental nursing system and things were much better (other than trying to tape down a tiny tube to my nipples at 1 am while avoiding kinks and clogs.) I abandoned it after a week as my breasts had not changed, were never in pain, and when I tried pumping got literally 2 drops.

A friend had also given me “BabyWise” in the middle of all of this and told me it was her bible. I attempted to use it in some meaningful way but gave up on that too, as it felt too stiff but also contained stories of the horrors that would befall parents and children when hyper-scheduling wasn’t utilized. It was a confusing and contradictory time. There was always a part of me that felt I had cheated my son or had hurt our bond in some way.

Fast forward 6 years and I was pregnant with my daughter. Again, I frequented BabyCenter, and someone posted a link to, “The Business of Being Born.” I watched it and was shocked. How could this not be mainstream information? I became indignant about the “birth industry,” c-sections, and lack of information about breastfeeding. I began to feel even more awful about my son’s birth: receiving an epidural, not having him placed on my chest, sending him to the nursery, not breastfeeding for longer than 2 weeks. What had I done to him?! I considered forgoing an epidural altogether this time. I vowed I would MAKE BREASTFEEDING WORK!

All of this changed when I was told my daughter was breech and would require a C-section. I was terrified and sobbing, not only for the loss of autonomy in birth, but I had never had such a procedure and wasn’t certain how well my skin would heal considering my condition (classical Ehlers-danlos syndrome.) I expressed my fears to my OB and gave her the number of another physician to consult about performing surgery on my skin who is an expert on my condition.

I obsessively read on “Spinning Babies.” I laid ironing boards on my couch to the floor and laid upside down on them. I used flashlights and bags of frozen peas,ANYTHING to get her to flip. Someone really should have taken a picture, it was hilarious. At various times I came across women that would post the contact information of OB’s and midwives that delivered breech babies. They would tell other women, “if all else fails, you can contact these people and they will help you deliver!” while espousing the “variation of normal” theme.

At some point, and I can’t recall when or where, I stumbled on your site before my scheduled C-section. I immediately related to the stories of feelings of inadequacy that women feel surrounding their births. I also related to how those feelings were often taken advantage of to advance an agenda of, “natural is always better.” Women can talk all they want about birth being empowering, but reading your site made me feel more empowered than I had ever felt before regarding childbirth and breastfeeding.

When I went in for my C-Section, my OB had informed me she had done the phone consult and was going to be using a subcuticular stapler on me adding lots of extra stitching and tape. She had humbled herself to asking someone for a second opinion in an effort to provide me the best care possible and make me feel at ease.

During the procedure the doctors had music playing, everyone was chatting happily, the feeling in the room was amazingly positive and not chaotic at all. After my daughter was born I heard her cry and I just sobbed tears of joy. My husband held her for the first time and brought her over to me. I know it was a special moment for him.

I breastfed as soon as I could, but as the day progressed I noticed the familiar pattern of hunger I experienced with my son. Because of your site, I felt confident to ask a nurse for the SNS, although she said she’d have to speak with the lactation consultant first. This was a much harsher approach than when I had my son just 6 years prior. The LC came in and man-handled my breasts and told me everything looked great. I told her I would feed my daughter and call her back in 45 minutes. She showed up an hour and a half later (I had been feeding since she left the room.) I removed my daughter from my breast and she SCREAMED in hunger incessantly. I was promptly given the SNS.

I also gave my daughter to the nursery when I needed to sleep as my husband was home with our son. I had no qualms with her being fed formula. I actually combo fed for a whole month, and I was very proud of myself that I lasted that long! I did not experience in any way shape or form the type of guilt I had with my son’s birth. I owe a debt to you in helping relieve that burden for me and allowing me to examine the situation for what is truly was; being young, unprepared, impressionable, vulnerable. I consider myself a “skeptical” individual. I take most claims with a grain of salt, consider the sources, and try to think critically. But I still managed to (almost) fall down the rabbit hole of WOO. I’m actually really interested in cults and can now somewhat relate as to how one initially is attracted to them…

Anyway, this is extremely long winded … but I wanted to share my experiences and express my appreciation for the work you do.