Nothing is Black and White (a personal reflection post)

Today’s post has nothing to do with writing or my books. It’s one where I speak about something on a personal note. Specially, I am going to discuss breastfeeding and giving birth.

This morning while I was doing my morning routine of tidying up around the house, I was listening to someone on a podcast who was talking about the baby formula shortage in the United States. This person said that this shortage is not a concern because, “Women have the ability to feed their babies.” My first inclination was to go on the internet and make a comment on this person’s podcast because despite what he thinks, this isn’t true. I tried breastfeeding my first two, and I was unsuccessful at it. With the first one, my milk ended up drying up, and I ended up giving him baby formula. With the second, I had decided that I hadn’t tried hard enough with the first, so I refused to give him any formula. I breastfed him every couple of hours. I followed the nurse’s advice down to the letter. But he wasn’t wetting his diaper. No matter how much I fed him, he just wasn’t getting enough, and I did have some milk, so I knew I was producing something. One day, I saw what I thought was blood in his diaper and ran down to the emergency room. It wasn’t blood, but it did turn out he was very dehydrated. He wasn’t getting enough to breast milk. I had done my best, but my best wasn’t enough for him. So I gave him formula, and, thankfully, everything turned out alright. After that experience, I never even bothered breastfeeding the other two.

Not all women can produce enough milk to feed their babies. Years after my children were born, I came across a post from a woman who had also been having trouble getting enough milk for her baby. Unfortunately, she didn’t seek out medical help. Her baby died. I wish I had been able to reach out to her before this happened. She was surrounded by people who told her to “keep at it” and “this is nature’s way” and “women’s bodies were made for feeding their children”. She was too ashamed to give her child formula. She made her post so that other women would give their babies formula if their bodies weren’t producing enough milk. Maybe “most” women can successfully breastfeed, but no “all” women can do it. I’m proof of it. That lady is proof it. Nothing is black and white.

Now let’s discuss birth. There seems to be a stigma against c-sections. Vaginal birth is considered the “natural” and “best” way to have a baby. I even had two people in my husband’s family who pretty much told me to never go with a c-section because it went against nature’s way and that my body was made to handle it. With my oldest, I was told he was larger than most. The doctor gave me the option of scheduling a c-section or inducing labor. I did a lot of praying on this, and I believe God steered me towards the c-section because I happened to come across of TV shows where women mentioned trying to give birth vaginally, but their babies got stuck. In one case, the baby’s shoulder got dislocated, and he never did get full use of his arm from the birth injury. In another case, the woman suffered from it. I don’t recall the specifics of that one except that the woman had to go through surgery and wasn’t the same ever again. Then I recalled the woman I had met while in college who’s baby got stuck. In her case, her child’s shoulder got dislocated, but he was able to gain full movement after some months. Anyway, I believe God was guiding me to go with a c-section, so I opted for that. I have never regretted that decision. I had c-sections with all of the others since they were all larger than average and I had them close together. (Kids are currently 20, 18, 17, and 16. They’re stair steps.) Years later, I met a woman who gave birth vaginally, and it tore her enough where even surgery didn’t sufficiently help her. She said she wished she had gone the c-section route and that I should never let anymore shame me for going “against nature”.

Not all women can handle a vaginal birth. Sometimes a c-section is best for the mother and the baby. Not all women’s bodies are made to handle it. I don’t know why, but that’s the way things are. I get tired when people try to shame a woman for choosing a c-section. I also get tired of women being shamed for buying formula for their child. I thought the goal was “healthy mother, healthy baby”, but apparently, it’s not.

And while I’m on this topic, something else came to mind. I communicated with a woman some years ago who went through menopause in her 20s. She worried that she would never be able to find a husband because she’ll never be able to have children. I also communicated with a woman who didn’t have a full reproductive system. I also communicated with a couple of women who had something going on with their bodies that made it impossible to carry a baby to term. That’s all heartbreaking, and I feel terrible for these poor women. Sure, most women can conceive and give birth, but not all of them can. And I noticed that society tends to punish women for not having children. Well, maybe those women can’t physically have them.

Nothing is black and white. There are a lot of grays in this world. We tend to think that if something is the norm, then it’s true for everyone, and that simply isn’t the case. I think we need to stop making assumptions about other people based on our experiences or what is socially expected. There’s a lot going on that we don’t know about. And quite frankly, what is going on in someone’s life is not our business. If someone wants to confide in us, fine. If not, that is their right. We are not entitled to the details of someone’s life.

All I’m asking is that instead of jumping to conclusions about a certain situation, it would be better to take a step back and realize we don’t have all of the information.

That’s it. I’m done ranting. I’ll return to posting my usual writing related posts. ๐Ÿ™‚

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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7 Responses to Nothing is Black and White (a personal reflection post)

  1. I’m so glad you posted this. I was unable to breastfeed either of my boys. The reasons were different for each boy, but I really tried both times. The short version is my oldest just WOULDN’T breastfeed but loved bottles, and the youngest was a little too enthusiastic about it and caused me to bleed and for him to ingest blood, which horrified me. Women should not be shamed for any of this or for having a C-section. People need to mind their own business.

    • Yikes on bleeding while breastfeeding! That sounds painful. And yes, I wouldn’t want him to be ingesting blood, either. How scary.

      My kids preferred the bottle, too. I found the civilian hospital way more supportive of this than the military one. The military pretty much insisted on only breastfeeding. I snuck in formula and a bottle with the last child since my third lost “too much weight” and they almost didn’t let us go home.

  2. You know, some of the media I’ve consumed lately talk about this subject. For breastfeeding, the show Adam Ruins Everything did a whole segment on breastfeeding myths (it’s on YouTube if you want to check it out), and it was pretty informative. And in an anime I’ve been watching, How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, there’s an episode near the end of the first season where a woman has a C-section, and the main character, who is from Japan but is living in another world now, talks about how C-sections help many people.
    Anyway, thought that was interesting. And thanks for the rant, Ruth. The more people who speak on this, especially from experience, the more people are actually educated on these issues.

    • Isn’t it ironic that when you watch something on a certain topic, it ends up being the thing someone posts about? ๐Ÿ˜€

      I ran over to You Tube to see what Adam Ruins Everything had to say on the subject. I didn’t know 15% of moms can’t breastfeed. I fall into that category. I enjoy the way they gave the balance between the formula and breast milk. The humor was especially good. That line about breastfeeding one of the kids and giving formula to the other one but both still turning out to be idiots had me on the floor laughing. So funny! This show is addicting. I’m going to watch more episodes.

      • They have the entire series over on HBO Max, if you have that streaming service. And if you don’t, it might be worth the thirty day free trial. Trust me, that show kept me sane last summer. Or more sane than usual.

  3. Erica R says:

    Well said. God gave us brains to use them. Formula and C sections were created to save lives. I personally am thankful. Thanks for writing.

    • I’m also thankful God gave us the ability to work around the problems that can pop up. I love the historical time period, but our life expectancy is better now because of the advancements we’ve made in a variety of areas.

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