Supportive partners and egalitarian parenting

“I’m so lucky that I have Joe,” my friend said over a Zoom chat the other day. When she was recovering from her c-section birth last August, she could barely stand up on her own for the first three weeks, and when she was able to stand on her own, she couldn’t really bend over, which meant she couldn’t change any of their baby’s diapers. Her husband did the lion’s share of taking care of the baby and the house as she recovered from the c-section, and she said she felt really bad about it. “We’re lucky to have partners who really believe in equal parenting in this day and age,” she said to me. “Our moms did NOT have even a fraction of this when they had us!”

She’s right. The current generation of parents are more egalitarian than the generations before us. But unfortunately, I see many, many posts in the mom and pumping/breastfeeding groups I’m in where there are plenty of dads that literally do nothing to help raise their children. They think it’s fully the mother’s responsibility to do everything child-related, and even say things like, “You need to control your child!” or “All you do all day is sit on your ass and pump.” That last one really stung when I read it. As someone who has attempted to exclusively pump since my child’s fourth week of life, I can say with firsthand experience that pumping not only fucks with your mind (“wait, I’m pumping milk to feed my child, but I can’t feed her directly from my boob, so I don’t get that direct bonding experience with her? WHY?!”), but it also just takes so, so much time and energy. Breastfeeding mothers do not attach themselves to an electric nipple sucking device for fun or as a hobby; we do this because we need and want to feed our babies the only thing they are able to eat aside from formula. We are producing food and nourishment for our babies to SURVIVE. And in a current time when formula has not only been recalled but is in scarcity, saying something that is not only tone deaf and ignorant, but it’s just plain stupid.

I’ve never had to explain to Chris why I wanted to breastfeed, whether that was directly from the boob or pumping. I’ve never had to listen to a dumb retort from his mouth when I tell him, “I have to pump.” I’ve never had to explain the benefits of breast milk to him or why pumping was a decision I wanted to push forward with to feed our child, even when I was angry or grumpy about it. He just got it and respected my wishes. He does pretty much all the baby’s bottle feeds other than the ones the nanny does now, and he actually enjoys it. If anything, I think he benefits from my exclusive pumping: it means he gets bonding time with our baby, who associates him with food (instead of me :-P). Whenever he walks into the room, her eyes immediately go to him. To her, Daddy = food. I know he loves this. Am I sad that she doesn’t associate me directly with food? Yes, but I’ve gotten over it now. She may be unaware of it now, but my body is providing the majority of her nourishment, and I’m happy knowing that. To think that other partners would not be supportive and would be flat out ignorant to the benefits of pumping and breast milk, not to mention completely be oblivious to the time and mental energy required to pump, just hurts my heart. And to think that other partners would not want the relationship Chris has with our daughter just seems sad to me. Why even bother to procreate unless you want to have a relationship with your child and contribute to their health, safety, and well being? It’s really unfortunate that not only so many women choose partners who are like this, but also continue to put up with this terrible behavior and treatment… in the year 2022.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.