When you have a newborn, everyone’s focus, including your own, tends to shift away from you. Your needs and wants hit the backburner. You want to do everything you can to keep your baby healthy and happy. And that’s mostly to be expected. (Although we highly recommend letting other people take some of the load occasionally.)
One woman (we’ll call her Stephanie) took things way too far when she asked her sister (Mary) to keep providing breastmilk for her newborn when Mary was going through one of the hardest times of her life.
This recent story from the “Am I The A**hole?” thread on Reddit has a lot to unpack. The story features a complicated relationship between sisters, a formula shortage, a new mom, and the heartbreaking situation of a grieving mom.
For anyone who has dealt with a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, this story could be triggering. However, we believe these stories should be told in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding losing a baby, and all the complicated emotions around the issue.
‘Am I Wrong For No Longer Supplying My Sister Breast Milk?’
On the popular Reddit thread, Mary has asked the community if they agree with her sister Stephanie. Her question is this, “Am I The A**hole for telling my sister I will no longer give her my breast milk?” And, from the jump, she doesn’t sound like an a**hole…at all.
Here’s the situation. Mary recently gave birth to a stillborn baby. Her sister Stephanie gave birth to a “healthy baby boy” the next week. While Mary was producing breastmilk, her sister wasn’t able to breastfeed her baby.
So, out of the kindness of her heart, Mary offered to provide breastmilk to her sister’s son while she was pumping. (Mary’s doctors recommended she pump for three weeks).
During that time, there was a formula shortage. Mary agreed to pump breastmilk for an additional two weeks when Stephanie couldn’t find any formula. Since the formula has been restocked, Mary told her sister that she would stop pumping. Stephanie then told Mary that her son was having stomach problems from the formula and asked her to continue pumping.
When Mary told her sister that she couldn’t emotionally handle it anymore, her sister responded cruelly. She told Mary that she was “selfish and the embodiment of misery loves company.” Cue the record scratch. Having two sisters myself, I get that the relationship between sisters can be complicated. However, the entitled attitude that Stephanie is displaying is beyond grotesque.
Her sister just went through a traumatic event, and it doesn’t seem like anyone is acknowledging that. Sadly, even Mary’s mom agrees that she should “help out” her sister. Luckily, Mary is getting support from her husband. He believes her sister is “way out of line.”
In the end, Mary agreed to pump for a few more days to give her sister a freezer stash until she can find a better formula for her son. And, Mary even mentions feeling “awful” for not “helping her out more.”
We think this mom is the epitome of kindness and bravery in the face of adversity, and we’re not alone. Support from the Reddit community definitely came through.
Commenters Did Not Hold Back
One commenter agreed that Stephanie should be grateful for all that Mary has done, especially while she’s mourning her own child. “Your husband is right. You shouldn’t be bullied into continuing your milk production and then pumping when this is time for you to grieve. You were kind enough to continue for 2 additional weeks, she needs to be grateful and move on.”
Another commenter did offer an alternative to Stephanie’s behavior. While she did empathize with Stephanie somewhat, she still agreed that Mary was in no way the a**hole. Societal pressures to breastfeed are high and it can leave mothers feeling like they are “bad moms” if they can’t provide breastmilk.
Stephanie may be dealing with emotions surrounding the fact that she can’t breastfeed, or possibly even postpartum depression, which might be skewing her outlook.
This commenter stated, “When I first had to supplement because I wasn’t making enough I felt like a bad mother, and ironically I feel like we can often be made to feel that way, so maybe your sister is struggling with that decision.”
It’s important to note that there are milk banks for situations like these and sensitive formulas for babies that can’t process certain formulas. This is a situation in which Stephanie should consult her son’s pediatrician to come up with an appropriate solution.
Another commenter simply stated, “You deserve the ability to grieve and move on on your own timeline. The fact your sister doesn’t care about your loss or grief is astounding. I’m sorry she is so self-absorbed and can’t see your pain. I’m sorry for your tremendous loss and am so thankful you have such a supportive spouse.”
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