If you're a person on the Internet, then you know that parents love to be judgmental about other parents' choices. Especially moms.
But, unfortunately, this kind of boundary overstepping apparently isn't just an online, hide-behind-your-computer-screen phenomenon. A mom from Gainesville, Florida, named Annie Ferguson Muscato recently had an unfortunate run-in with an opinionated stranger while buying baby formula at Target.
So, naturally, she took to Facebook to talk about her experience and respond to the woman. Her emotional open letter is going viral; since Saturday when it was posted, it has over 28,000 shares, 33,000 likes, and 5,000 comments.
"You don't need to tell me 'best is breast' as I was buying a can of baby formula," she begins, "because I already know."
"I know that my husband and I excitedly took the four hour breast feeding class when I was pregnant. I know that my baby immediately did skin to skin and ate from my breast within an hour of her birth, because it was important to me. I know that we saw a lactation consultant before we took her home, and again a few weeks later. I know that we struggled at first."
Muscato explains in detail how, no matter what she did, breastfeeding her daughter didn't go according to plan:
"My baby began screaming after she ate. Writhing in pain. Inconsolable. I know over the last month and a half I have exclusively pumped and tried slow flow bottles of breast milk, I have tried different positions, I have seen another lactation consultant."
Taking advice from her pediatrician, the new mom even cut out soy, dairy and leafy greens from her diet to make the milk easier to digest for her baby. But nothing would work.
So, eventually, Muscato decided to make the switch to hypoallergenic dairy protein-free formula—and her baby "started smiling. She started interacting. She started sleeping.
"I thought my body failed her. I thought she wouldn't be as healthy on formula. I know you think I must not care or I'm lazy, or maybe you were genuinely trying to be helpful and thought no one had ever told me the benefits of breast feeding."
"What I know that you don't is that breast ISN'T always best," she continues. "I know happy, healthy baby is best. I know FED is best. What I'm sure we both know is that parenting is hard. Really hard. That sometimes what we plan for and what we want just doesn't work out, but we are all here trying to do what's best for our babies.'"
Muscato is far from the only mom who's come up against various obstacles that stood in the way of being able to exclusively breastfeed (including annoying preachy mothers who won't mind their own business)—and the overwhelmingly supportive reaction to her open letter proves it. The overall consensus? Mama knows best—and sometimes, that isn't breast.