A mom and breast cancer survivor is speaking out about the criticism she’s received for not breastfeeding her baby after a double mastectomy.
Emily Wax-Thibodeaux is a reporter for The Washington Post, and in a new piece she wrote for the publication, she describes what it was like undergoing a double mastectomy followed by rounds of treatments at just 32 years old.
“The truth is, I’m a breast cancer survivor, and after a double mastectomy with reconstruction, which probably saved my life, I simply wasn’t able to breast-feed,” Wax-Thibodeaux wrote, continuing to explain that she had to wait five years after treatment to even begin the process of having a baby. “My husband and I always wanted kids. But after six months of chemotherapy and radiation and three rounds of surgery, we had to wait five years while I was on tamoxifen, a cancer-fighting drug that can cause birth defects. Adoption agencies also required us to wait that long, since survival rates go up after five years of being disease-free.”
Five years later, at 37, Wax-Thibodeaux was told she could go ahead and try to have a baby, so she and her husband went through fertility treatments in order to do so, and finally, back in January of this year, the breast cancer survivor gave birth to her son.
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Since the birth of her son, Wax-Thibodeaux has had to use formula to feed him because she is unable to produce breast milk due to her double mastectomy, but she shares in her piece that she’s still had to deal with criticism from nurses and other moms over the way she feeds her baby.
When Wax-Thibodeaux was in the hospital following he birth of her son, nurses pushed her to breastfeed him. When she explained that she couldn’t due to breast cancer, they continued to chastise her for choosing otherwise and tried to pressure her to give it a try.
“It may come out through your armpits,” claimed one nurse.
“There is a feeling that you are a more superior mother if you can breast-feed,” Wax-Thibodeaux said. “But motherhood is about so much more.”
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The reporter has also received harsh criticism from other mothers for her decision to formula feed her son, but even still, more mothers from all over have responded to her story well and given her their support. Now, Wax-Thibodeaux says she hopes by sharing her story publicly, critics will “back off” and others in her situation will feel supported.
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