Monday, September 27, 2010

When You Get a Call From Costco About Beetle Crap In Your Kid’s Formula

Last Friday night, I ignored a phone call from an 800 number. I hate talking on the phone. I hate telemarketers even more. If you call me and I don’t recognize your number, it’s most likely you’re going straight to voice mail. This time, the 800 caller left a message, though, so I was intrigued. The retrieved message was from Costco notifying me that Similac formula I had bought months ago was part of the recent recall and that I should throw it out to be safe. I shrugged and hung up. I stopped feeding Zygote formula months ago, and the formula she did drink was very minimal compared to her breastmilk intake – nothing to worry about here.

I didn’t think about the recall again until I was consulting Dr. Google about why my normally voracious eater had pretty much stopped eating anything except oatmeal and mashed fruit. This led me to the recall site where I read, “Abbott…detected the remote possibility of the presence of a small common beetle in the product produced in one production area in a single manufacturing facility. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that while the formula containing these beetles poses no immediate health risk, there is a possibility that infants who consume formula containing the beetles or their larvae, could experience symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort and refusal to eat as a result of small insect parts irritating the GI tract. If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, a physician should be consulted.” Hmmm…interesting. While I was pondering the possibility of a small insect colony setting up shop in Zygote’s lower intestine, I looked over and noticed her devouring a cheese stick, followed by an inhalation of edamame. Then a lot of pointing and whining in the general direction of a box of Cheerios. She had not been invaded by beetles, just “exerting her toddler independence at mealtime” which seems to be the polite way of saying “acting like a possessed demon.”

I don’t know what I would have done if she actually was infested with beetles. Took her to the doctor? Got her some medicine to make her feel better? Sat her on my lap and read her favorite books and played with her hair to comfort her? Probably. You know what I would not have done? I would not have felt guilty about giving her formula, because my guilt won’t really do jack for her.

Apparently, this would not have been the right approach. I should definitely feel very, very, very guilty. If you read the mommy boards (which I do because I like to know that there is always someone out there more batshit crazy than me), you have probably seen all the “tsk, tsk” and “well, if you didn’t feed your baby POISON, you wouldn’t have to worry about beetles” or “This is what happens with formula. DID YOU KNOW..that breast is best?” Did I know? Seriously? Yes, I did know. I live in Cambridge, one of the most liberal cities in the country, home to ‘the Kremlin on the Charles,’ home to gazillions of doulas, lactation consultants, nursing mothers groups, babywearers associations, cloth diaper services, how to make your own organic baby food classes, and so on. You really think I NEVER HEARD that breastfeeding is best for my kid? That I have been sitting here, ignorant and uneducated, waiting for you to help me see the light about breastfeeding? Really?

I read this wonderful post, The Similac Formula Recall Is Not a Punchline and loved this:

“Life happens. Formula happens. You know who formula happens to, in particular? Women who can’t breastfeed. Fathers caring for babies on their own. Adoptive parents caring for babies. You know what those parents don’t want to read? Shitty, spiteful comments about how “well if you were breastfeeding, you wouldn’t have to worry about feeding your kid beetle parts.”

I hate that I even have to defend why I ever used formula, but I realize that if I’m frothing at the mouth about something, people probably would like some kind of back story. Here you go. It was always my intention to breastfeed Zygote, and I would say that I am firmly in the pro-breastfeeding camp. I don’t like the big business of formula, and I think that the marketing of formula in areas where people have no access to money and/or clean water is pretty gross. You know the benefits of breastfeeding, so I won’t repeat them here.

And then I got postpartum depression. FUN! The sheer neverendingness of breastfeeding was just one more thing that was making me feel INSANE. I felt like all I did was move from chair to chair, feeding and feeding and feeding, with nothing but time to think some really, really dark stuff about how, if I just got slightly injured (nothing fatal), someone else would have to take care of the baby and what a relief that would be. That thought was enough to scare the shit out of me, and I got on some meds pronto and made the decision to supplement with one bottle a day to give myself some breathing room and just the feeling that I could separate from Z if I needed to. It made the transition make to work much easier, helped with pumping, and made me a much calmer and happier mother. I started that at six weeks and continued the one bottle until Z abruptly decided to stop nursing at 11months, moving on to bigger and better things, like steak. I never felt guilty about it and I don’t now. The only guilt I felt was about not being emotionally present for my kid those first few weeks, but I realize I need to cut myself a break on that one.

I expect that much of parenting is going to be like this – having lots of intentions and dreams and goals, but needing to modify to make things work best for my kid, my family and me. I don’t really see the point in ‘shoulding’ all over people or making them feel guilty if what’s right for me doesn’t work for them.

Erin Shea (one of my favorite bloggers and someone I’ve been following since I first discovered blogs all those eons ago) posted on this same topic, and I especially loved this:

“Even more baffling to me is why, to my friend Jackie’s point, people feel “duty-bound” to “educate” others to the point where it’s intrusive and rude.

Or, you know, they’re advocating by being an asshole.

Here’s the thing about advocating by asshole: the people who you have no hope of converting think you’re an asshole. And the people who you do have a chance of converting think you’re an asshole, too. And everyone who agrees with your position wishes you’d just shut up or at least learn a modicum of manners.”

Amen. I just don’t see the point in being a dick in situations where being a dick is not called for. And if I’m going to be a dick to you, I will at least be a polite dick, and hope we can have a reasonable conversation.

1 comment:

Rosemary said...

I had a Bradley instructor - yes, I said Bradley - whose mantra was "what's best for baby AND for mom." Odd for Bradley, because she also said that your emotional state, as the mom, was a good enough reason to ask for meds. And I think that's just as valid for breastfeeding as for birth. I spent a year+ moderating a board for working & pumping moms, many of whom had to supplement with formula, or switch to all formula, because they worked, and when you work, oftentimes breastfeeding simply doesn't. All of us - every mom - is doing the best she can for her kid. I've never understood why so many of us get so aggressive about our own choices. Better, always, to honor each other.