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I'm a married mum who loves chocolate & music & having an opinion on just about everything! E-Mail summermama@hotmail.co.uk

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cyber Bullies

I’ve been reading lots of articles recently with interest on the internet, where people are verbally attacking others because of their beliefs in how to bring up their children. Excuse me? Racial hate isn’t tolerated; Sexual hate isn’t tolerated – what’s this, then? It can’t be named ‘children hate’ as it’s the complete opposite – its women tearing chunks out of one another on a social internet page or forum because they both believe that they are a better mother than the other. Can’t they just agree to disagree? Apparently not!

Among the list of topics that seem to get everyone hot under the collar, we have:

The Eating In The Carseat or Pushchair Debate: Yes, well, those of you that have seen my comments will know my view. In the carseat no, never, absolutely not. The Boy is allowed a drink when we are stationary and not otherwise. In a 30mph accident, objects weigh five times their normal weight as they fly through the air. Imagine a hard plastic container filled with water (the beaker in his hand) being thrown through the car in an impact where you’re travelling at 30mph and so is the person you hit – A combined speed of 60mph will do a lot of damage to whatever that beaker hits. As far as food is concerned, why would I risk it? My son is rear facing in his carseat, so if I’ve gone out on my own with him what do I do if he starts choking on a piece of food? Some clever clogs wrote a comment on a page “Simply pull over and stop to assist him” well that’s all very good if it’s possible, sweetheart, but on narrow country lanes that go for miles without anywhere safe and suitable to pull over what do you expect me to do? Tell him to wait on his choking until I can find somewhere suitable? Or drive my car into a farmer’s fence like a madwoman to administer emergency first aid while the hazardous positioning of my vehicle causes an RTC in the road? Added to that the fact that I can’t see him if he is choking makes me nervous about doing this. Then there’s the weight factor, too – though I doubt a single Bella’s Kitchen cookie would do that much damage even at five times its normal weight, you never can tell!

The ERF carseat debate. Do your own research, work it out, well done, now do some more research and buy a rear facing carseat. Now ask a million retailers why they don’t sell rear facing carseats and find out it’s because the ignorant masses of the UK don’t want it, on the whole, they’re not interested. It’s easier for them to get their child in a forward facing carseat so as quickly as possible they will do so, regardless of how many times you try to explain that it is safer not to travel this way for a child so young. There is a lady who I regularly see commenting on this subject and one of her comments was along the lines of “If I had to drive wearing a red clown nose, a silly wig and pulling a funny face to make my kids safer, then I would.” I think it’s very commendable, and I take my hat off to her, but she doesn’t seem to realise that unfortunately she is in the minority when she makes that comment. Most people wouldn’t do something so silly for an extra bit of safety, they want something that looks good and offers the latest gadgets and is a label they can boast about a bit and that is simple and easy to use. Don’t confuse the British public – it’s terribly easy to do, on the whole. I’ve worked since I was fourteen and in every job I’ve had an interactive role with the people who would be viewed as ‘customers’ and believe me when I say that as individuals they can have degrees and know all kinds of clever things, but as a mass, a group, they are completely ignorant and will simply follow the herd and if you don’t tell them what they want to hear they will ignore you and talk a bit louder (then ask to speak to your supervisor). As a company you need to give customers what they want if you want them to buy your product, which is why you’ll find not many major companies shout about products they produce, but which are less popular.

The Breastfeeding Debate: OK now this one I saved til last because it really touches a nerve with me. A range of products – including baby t-shirts – has just been launched showing an image of a bottle with a red line through it and a negative comment about not breastfeeding. It is meant to imply that mothers who don’t breastfeed are somehow lacking in being perfect mothers, and that by the act of breastfeeding those who do are somehow better and more perfect.

I am pro-breastfeeding. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to do, to provide your baby nourishment and comfort from your own body in such a way. Technically speaking baby needs nothing for the first few weeks apart from mummy – these times are for mummy to treasure forever, and a time for bonding and getting more used to one another. Throughout my pregnancy I was asked by various other mums to be, midwives, consultants, doctors and other medical bods whether I intended to breastfeed and every time I answered truthfully, “Yes, I do.”

The Boy’s delivery wasn’t easy and it was a good hour or two after delivery that I had an opportunity to try feeding him. He wasn’t interested at all, and after the midwife tried assisting me and found he wasn’t having it, she suggested I kept trying for a while and left me to it. Two hours later he still hadn’t fed, though I’d managed to rub some of the colostrum around his lips and he’d licked them, he wouldn’t latch on for a good feed. The midwife complained that if he didn’t by I couldn’t be discharged onto the ward from the recovery room, and I had to be discharged from the recovery room by (I didn’t think to ask if the room turned into a pumpkin at , because thinking back on it now, why should it matter?) Anyway was in an hours time, the midwife tried assisting again and he wouldn’t latch on, so she got another midwife to help and that didn’t work either. In the end some more colostrum was rubbed around his lips which he licked and they counted that as a ‘feed’ and discharged me to the maternity ward just after .

We were in hospital for three days altogether. Each time I tried to feed him he’d take a mouthful or two but never much at a time. The best time I got him to latch on was the day we were discharged, when he was on for almost an hour, but he wasn’t taking a lot, it was just as if he wanted the closeness. I was still worried; they were still convinced everything was fine, we were discharged. The following day at home my midwife was horrified by what I told her, and the fact that since our return from the hospital The Boy had been asleep. We expressed some milk and fed it to him with a little sippy cup, which he took hungrily. “Darling, he’s not asleep, he’s unconscious,” She whispered, “He’s hungry, very hungry, and we need to get food in him or he needs to go back to hospital.” So we expressed even more into a bottle and fed him. From that point on, I tried to get him to breastfeed from me, but he simply wouldn’t, he refused, he would absolutely not to it to the point where he would scream his lungs out as soon as he realised what I was about to do! I had all kinds of advice and help from my midwife and a nursery nurse assistant to the health visitor (the health visitor is as much use as a chocolate teapot, but more on that later!) My son would drink breastmilk until his tummy went pop if it was out of a bottle, but direct from the source he absolutely refused. It was soul destroying, heartbreaking and made me feel so rejected by my beautiful, perfect baby that I cannot even begin to say how much it hurt every time I tried and every time he refused. While The Hubby was off work it was easy for me to pop off every couple of hours to express, and he would look after The Boy or wash and sterilise the bottles while I did so, but when he went back to work it became harder and harder to do. I’d slip from every two hours to every two and a half, to every three hours, as I struggled to juggle everything on my own, and of course as I was expressing less often I was getting less when I did. I must point out that at no point did I ever produce enough to satisfy The Boy – throughout the whole six weeks I was expressing milk I couldn’t keep up with him, even when expressing every time he fed, so the whole time he was being combination fed with SMA formula. And before that sparks off a whole other debate, there was no particular reason for us choosing SMA other than the fact that it was a brand we both recognised and was available in most shops locally so we knew it would be easy to buy when it was needed. Gradually the amount of milk I expressed off was less than the amount The Boy consumed of formula milk in any 24 hour period and one evening when he was six weeks old and I was exhausted I burst into tears about the fact that I couldn’t breastfeed and I couldn’t supply his demand and I was a useless mother in front of The Hubby.

He was horrified to find that I’d been feeling like that, and assured me that it was clearly The Boy’s choice not to breastfeed and we’d tried our best but he wasn’t into it, so how about we allow the formula feeds to take over so I could stop expressing and stressing about it. We agreed that was the way forward. I tried very hard to breastfeed, but for us it didn’t happen, and in lieu of breastfeeding directly I think I did alright to express for six weeks. It’s longer than some women breastfeed after all!

Now, bearing this in mind, I don’t take kindly to people presuming to know that I couldn’t be bothered to breastfeed my baby, or that I took an easier option or that my child is somehow less healthy because he didn’t breastfeed. Technically he did breastfeed as he had my milk for six weeks as well as formula – he’s had fewer illnesses so far in his life than other children of the same age and he’s taller and broader than the same group. He’s happy, sociable, inquisitive and thoughtful. I see no problems in his development physically or emotionally because I didn’t breastfeed him directly.

So then, how dare some other woman, who doesn’t know me, or my son, or our story or history, presume to know my reasons for not breastfeeding, and start having a go at me for my own, personal, honest opinion? Surely that’s unacceptable – I was asked for my opinion and provided it, and somehow this entitles you to have a go at me? To rant at me for some imaginary lifestyle story you have dreamed up for me? You don’t know me, why are you being so judgemental? Yet these women are doing it on an almost constant basis, to other mums who are presumably working just as hard as everyone else simply to do their best by their children? I hate this about society today – so quick to make judgements, to rip someone’s throat out (figuratively speaking) and scream abuse, vent your rage and start all the name calling under the sun. Have we actually moved on from the playground mentality at all? The whole idea of opinion, and debate, is each to their own – not that we will try and bully others into agreeing with our opinion!

Someone gleefully pointed out, on a debate on one page today, “Ooo, it’s just like MN in here!” and at that point I had to log out. I stopped using MN because of the awful conduct of the hideous women that frequent its pages and I hope that this is not the way that other pages will be going. I am all for debate, conversation, opinions – but not when people start getting bullied for speaking their mind.

At school, kids got bullied by me and I got bullied by other kids. I made a conscious effort to stop behaving that way when I was fifteen or sixteen and since then if I have an opinion I would like to give it without the risk of bullies shouting at me and threatening me verbally if I share my opinion. I am not here to judge you, why should you judge me? Each to their own – if we were all the same, life would be boring. It’s the same opinion that makes us decorate our houses differently, buy different cars, wear different clothes, all these are individual choices and you should not be ridiculed for sharing your choice when an opinion is asked.

So please, before you write a nasty comment to someone you don’t even know about the choices they’ve made in their life or their child’s life, stop and think about it. You don’t know the whole story, and a comment you say may be a very hurtful thing. You’re not going to agree with everything you read, but nor do you have to take such an aggressive stance on what you don’t agree with – if you don’t like it, stop reading it and move on – life goes on.

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