I'm still reeling from the fast-paced attacking I got on RTE 1's "Four Live" television programme today with Maura Derrane. I was led to believe that I was going on as a normal breastfeeding mother to promote breastfeeding and show it's "normality". I gave permission to use a few photos from my blog, and it's really interesting to see how they constantly flashed the one of me breastfeeding my son in Disneyland, as if it was a titillation for the viewers, or to incite comments. I was told I could talk about the book I'm trying to have published, and to talk about my reasons for blogging, but these were glossed over in the interview. I was told she would read out comments from my Facebook page, and from their website, and I asked to see them in advance. I was shown four comments from mothers who attested to breastfeeding their children to 2 and 3 years, one even fed hers to 5 years, and three of these were ignored once we were live on air.
The "disgusting" comment about the photo of me tandem feeding on the sofa at Christmas was a real curveball. If the lovely Nigerian man waiting in the wings for "The Daily Show" had drawn racist comments from viewers, would they be communicated to him live on tv to see how he reacts? The ridiculous question about Charlie's peers having a problem with his breastfeeding once he starts school was just so infantile I'm not even going to comment. Her quote from the HSE about the immune system being fully mature after 12 months breastfeeding was so inaccurate I couldn't let the credits roll without challenging it. I really felt in the firing line, on the back foot, and felt unable to answer any question fully, and explain myself or defend myself against her insinuations. The questions came so thick and fast, I was really glad I gave each one an answer, even though it wasn't always the most informative one.
The researcher and the producer who approached me first about appearing both apologised to me about the turn the interview had taken, saying they had had no idea the angle would be twisted so against me.
In a way I'm glad she took such an unsupportive stance, as unfortunately those attitudes still exist, and we've all had to deal with criticism. My saving grace in the whole thing is that I spared Charlie from it, and he's oblivious to the whole discussion surrounding his continued breastfeeding. When she asked where he was in the rehearsal and I said I'm not bringing him on, because I want to protect him from any negative comments, she looked around the studio in disbelief and kept pushing the whole "but it's all about him, everyone will want to see him, that's the reason we got you on". I said I'd been led to believe I was on to talk about breastfeeding in general, and I didn't want to have him hear even one hint that what he's doing isn't "normal". She also said she would ask me about my family's criticisms that I mentioned in one post. I said I didn't want to discuss that on air, and she said "we have to show all sides of the argument", so she went ahead and asked anyway.
My aim was to go on to show that breastfeeding sometimes "just happens", and we don't have to designate a stopping date if we don't want to. I also wanted to talk about the difficulties all breastfeeding women have in the early days, and how the HSE do nothing to actively support the breastfeeding mother once she's discharged from hospital. I wanted to highlight how difficult mothering is, whether we breastfeed or not, and how breastfeeding is just one small part of my life. I wanted to say I can't wait for the day when breastfeeding is so normalised we don't need to discuss it on tv. I wanted to say every mother needs to strip back all the conflicting advice she hears and follow her gut instincts, and what works for one family may not suit another. There was so much more I wanted to say, but never got the chance.
I haven't watched the interview back yet, I'm waiting until Charlie is in bed, as I don't want him to hear it. Barry minded him in the "green room" while I was being interviewed, and he distracted him from the interview, while keeping an ear on it himself.
I've had amazing support from my readers, thanks. A lot of the reason I started the blog was to reach out and share my experiences with other moms, as I was feeling a bit isolated, being the only one still breastfeeding a pre-schooler in my social circle. I've derived so much strength and comfort from your kind words, and it's given me the words to defend myself against criticism. So a big thank you to you all for reading, and taking the time to write your comments, I know you're all busy.