Stolen Courage

I can’t count the number of times I had other women try {and sometimes succeed} to steal my courage in my pregnancy, and in my earliest days of motherhood.

Women would so freely share their opinions about the “crazy” people they know who had natural births
and even BREASTFED until their children were able to *GASP* ask to do so.

Women who told me natural birth was stupid.
Women who told me I would be begging for an epidural.
Women who told me I would never make it with cloth diapers.
Women who told me I should be grateful that “God provided formula” because breastfeeding “sucks.”

Almost everywhere I turned, someone was saying, “you can’t,” or “you won’t,” or “just wait and see.”
It feels similar to people who are bitter about marriage & tell newly engaged couples or newlyweds to ‘just wait’ because the first year, or second year, or third year, was the worst ever. Or to wait 10 years & see if your spouse is still your favourite person.
We tell newly pregnant moms that birth is the most awful, most painful thing ever and that they’ll never sleep again. We bombard them with hopeless messages & create fear in them that renders them immobile.

Why, oh why, do we feel the need to take away other people’s courage?
Why must we destroy people’s desire to do good things? Why is that so pervasive especially when those good things are different than your own choices?

As many of you readers might know, we chose not to vaccinate our daughter.
The plethora of things I’ve been told about parents who don’t vaccinate is enough to make any parent want to cry.
The things that have been said directly to me about my choice not to vaccinate is certainly enough to make me want to cry, if I hadn’t made a well-informed decision.

I’ve come up with so many things to say in response to people’s hate toward my desire to do things in a way that might be different from the way they did things.

But never did I shake my head in disapproval at my friends who gave up on breastfeeding, never did I tell them how ridiculous or awful I find it to plan a c-section. And I never volunteer the things I learned about vaccines unless a mother asks.

I do not look at these women & say,
“I find you foolish for choosing ignorance.”

I often don’t even think that, even when I’m being insulted for my parenting choices.
Is it just okay that this is the way things work because I’m the minority population of parent here?

My child “shouldn’t be allowed to play with other children since she’s not vaccinated.”
How much longer are you going to breastfeed?!?!?!” {I got this starting at 6 months.}
“You realize that you don’t have to be some sort of superhero, right? You don’t have to prove anything. You can get an epidural.”

I’m incredibly grateful that I’m not so easily pushed around. I believe in the choices we’ve made. And I believe in them for a myriad of reasons, the most of which is a worldview based on valuing God & His divine design. I’m thankful that I was given new courage by a group of moms who loved me & supported me, who answered my questions & empathized over facing the same hatred.

I’m also grateful that I still have the opportunity to engage in relationship with some of the women who said some of the most hurtful things to me. Because I hope to see people open their minds, or at least, I hope to show a kindness that was not shown to me.

Semi-off-topic, but all of this reminds me of a scene from Easy Rider,”… don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free, ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are.” 

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Have you had any experiences like this where people have tried to steal your courage?
How did you respond? How did that effect your interactions with people about similar topics in the future?

7 thoughts on “Stolen Courage”

  1. Hi, I have a question about a post that John wrote a few weeks ago. The post was about a dream that he had about being in an adult store and he indicated that he is waiting for the day that you are free from nursing Amelie so that he can have more intimacy with you, something along those lines. I was wondering if he were to continue to feel a lack of intimacy if that would change some of your parenting strategy.. I guess I am wondering how you guys work through things like that..because i he posted it but there wasnt ever really a follow up…

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    1. Meghan,

      Thanks for your concern. I am a HUGE advocate for breast feeding. When we got pregnant I read more about breastfeeding then anything else. Strange but true. My hope is that all of our children will be able to breast feed as well and as long or longer than Amelie has (so far!).

      The point of the post was that in my selfish moments I start listing to my own wicked heart, which wants to have comfort and pleasure even when it might be harm to others. When I look back at moments like that I am disgusted at who I am but hopeful that Jesus will continue His work of redemption.

      Also, just published this and you might enjoy it. Breasts Are Great!

      Thanks for reading and responding.

      John

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  2. the strength and courage of your convictions is a blessing to me – another answer to prayers over the years for you. hard – and tragic – to live with a world predisposed to shallow, narrow pseudo-thinking that’s also poisoned by an unrelenting barrage of propaganda and disinformation on every topic. that you and john flourish so well through christ’s love working in you and amelie is a daily delight for me to observe and reflect upon. that i get to actually participate in it is a joy beyond measure.

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  3. I never came across this, and found even now that most people seem to be reluctant to share some of the heads-up stuff with newlyweds or those to be new mothers, at least where I live and those who have surrounded me or some recent mothers-to-be who I’ve known.

    My children were born in the mid-1990s, and I breastfed both for a year. My sister, who lived in various places (I was in Ohio) but mostly West Virginia during that time (also Alabama, Seattle, and Rhode Island, as well as Sweden), breastfed hers even longer. I had sisters-in-law who stopped when they reached 3 months or 12 weeks, when the child goes through a period of growth. Thankfully, What to Expect When you’re Expecting (or The First Year, in this case) prepared me for the growth spurt and the extra feeding requirements and the teething, and I got through the growth spurt. I am so glad I breastfed. It was such a wondrous connection between me and my babies. I’m sorry you’ve had friends who seem to think it’s okay to lay their requirements on you. I wanted to do natural childbirth. With my first, I didn’t make it. With the second, I had no choice. But I have had the same thoughts as you when I see women who don’t follow doctor’s guidelines on no nail polish, no hair coloring, no artificial sweetener, and who diet excessively, and then have something come out wrong with their baby or they are bedridden at some point. I didn’t say anything but I wondered why they couldn’t follow the simple rules when it had everything to do with their baby’s health and their health. I’m glad you are strong and able to withstand the peer pressure, and really thought we’d gotten beyond all that. Mother’s milk is the best thing for babies, and they should all “eat a little dirt” growing up so that they develop natural immunizations against most diseases. I did vaccinate mine, but I don’t believe in giving them antibiotics unless that’s really only the correct course (because it’s a bacterial infection that is beyond letting it heal itself, and it is not a viral infection like cold or flu which is not helped by antibiotics at all). Overuse of antibiotics and other pills is why I think we have so many sick children and adults today, and so many allergies. G-d bless!

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  4. I do think that AP Moms are just as judgmental as families who choose a communal style of parenting instead of the mother-child centered ” natural way” of parenting saying things like “do u know my baby is getting the BEST because he or she is not formula fed like other babies”. Implying that Moms who choose not to BF or share their marital bed with a baby arent good parents.. p..”As Mothers we should support one another although we are all different.

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  5. I’m sorry that you experienced this but to be fair.. AP Moms can be judgmental of parents who choose not to parent the “natural way”.. (i.e breastfeeding children into toddlerhood or who formula feed from day one or choose not to share their marital bed with their baby etc), insinuating that we love our children less. Its just unfortunate that we as women and mothers just dont support eachother.

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  6. I think it is amazing how strong you are. I find myself stealing my own courage. Often. I am a single mother now. So overwhelmed and just feel like I am failing my daughter. How do I do better? There are days I feel broken and days I feel I am doing the best job ever. I think everyone feels that way, sometimes. I wish I had the support you have with John. I think God has blessed you so much Lee Anne. I am so happy for you!

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