My parents came into the WCG cult in the early 70’s. I was a preteen and busy trying to make new friends to share our weird life experiences with. I really didn’t pay much attention to the mothers with babies.
Once the Kansas City area got big enough, our church area changed and we went to the Kansas City South church. We met in the American Legion hall each week, where the bar was full of drunk veterans sharing war stories and such over many drinks. The longer into the church service we got, the louder the laughs, whooops and hollers got! NO offense meant to any veterans reading this, please!!! I have very high regards for the men who fought for our freedoms. The point being, this was just not the kind of place that is suitable for having a godly, spiritual church meeting.
So there was the large bar area, a large kitchen (for those church potlucks) and then the large room where we had church, to the north. Just south, across the hall of the bar area, were the bathrooms the church used. In between the bathrooms was a small open closet area to hang coats. Well this is where the poor mothers got stuck. Someone got the bright idea of hanging a curtain to block the men’s view, but if there was a line of men, and anyone was really tall, they would’ve been able to see over it. There was a rickety table (smaller than a card table) to change babies on. A few hard metal folding chairs were there for the moms. There was no curtain hung to divide it from the women’s bathroom side, so as we would be waiting in line, it was very awkward. Where to look? Up, down, front of the line? Luckily (I guess) this was before I had kids. I do remember there was absolutely NO place to take a bored, frustrated kid, or a loudly crying baby. Some women would go in the bathroom to feed a baby, but such a lovely, sweet smelling environment to take one’s child. NOT! The “true church” had such love for families.
The YES kids fared no better. They had to go through a door (towards the bar area) to go to another room for YES lessons. I had a few women comment to me, how they hated that room. It was so smoky and loud back there. Wonderful environment for the little kiddies learning about God’s way of life! I guess if Herbie hadn’t been so busy traveling around to see whores, buy sex toys, doodads for his homes, or all the booze he drank, each church area could’ve had a very nice, well planned out church building.
We left WCG in spring of 1995 and ended up in what would become Global and later Living. The entire (it seems) Kansas City East church, followed Gerald Weston out of WCG and into Global. So we go. This was a few months before our oldest child was born. The first place we met at was a grade school, with no good mother’s room areas. If needed, my husband or I (he was a great helper!) would take the baby into the hall just outside the church room. I don’t remember life with a baby as being too difficult at that location, but since wearing pants to church was not a major “sin”, at least I got to be comfortable when up and down on the floor with the baby. We later moved to a larger elementary school. Church was in the gym, then you had to go up about four steps, out the hall and into the teachers lounge to feed or change babies.
Here comes the intolerance and judgmental part that I had to deal with Every Week. And it really threw me for a loop! Unfortunately I was unable to totally breastfeed my baby(ies). While pregnant, I was so looking forward to it. Buying books on nursing, some convenient tops, trying to eat right and drinking lots of water. But it wasn’t meant to be. I even got anointed for it (more than once) and nothing! So I nursed what I could and followed up with bottle feeding. I’ll never forget the first time I tried to nurse my oldest in the second location. I had given her a bottle (in church) and after services, took her to the mother’s room to nurse her. It seems like Every Woman with a baby or young child was there! Everyone was talking loudly, kids were crying and it was impossible for me to get a crying, upset baby to nurse. I was about to cry myself! One other woman (an older mom, with an older baby and other kids) came up to me and said she was glad to see I was successful being able to nurse AND bottle. Evidentially she had to do that too. I didn’t “feel” successful, but it felt good to hear that. Unfortunately, they soon moved away.
By the time my middle child came along, 18 months later, I had found some great nursing books, and I learned “why” I had such a hard time nursing. Some women are physically incapable of nursing for various reasons, despite what the earth mother WCG types think. Just goes to show you how ignorant we all were, on many topics. Two books I highly recommend are “The Nursing Mother’s Companion” by Kathleen Huggins. Also, “Dr. Mom” has a great book on breastfeeding. Both books DO acknowledge certain problems some women have and show “why” they will have problems, and how to work around them. They recommend nursing what you can, and bottling what you need to. I also took the herb “Fenugreek” and got a prescription for Reglan. So I was ready for this next baby. She loved to nurse! (unlike the other one), but I still had to do the follow up bottle while at church. When we first started attending “East” church as I still think of it, I was hoping to make new friends, since everyone I had been friends with either left WCG totally, moved away, joined another splinter or quit religion. This church had one particular very large family, who were very tight knit, and I was to find out, had NO room in their hearts, for new friends, or anyone who did anything Differently than they. There were two women in particular. One woman, named Nina*, I thought I could be friends with. At first she seemed a bit friendly. We both had suffered pregnancy loss(es), and we were pregnant about the same time on two occasions. There was also a younger, single woman named August* of the same large family. There was one other sister, whose name I don’t know, but who was quite rude as well. They reminded me of these “mother earth” types with long straight hippy hair and hippy clothes. Nina and August especially loved to wear the tightest clothes imaginable. It seemed as if some went from Herbie extremes of hiding everything, to slut street wear. Not that I’m a prude NOT at all. But still, for church, one ought to be able to know what is appropriate.
Anyways, I don’t know how many times I was in the mother’s room, bottling my baby (I would go out to the car for nursing, and if she didn’t want any bottle then, I would give it to her later, inside) and put up with Rude, Snide, Hateful remarks. No one bothered or cared to ask me “why” I was bottle-feeding. I would have been glad to tell them, so as to not put up with such hate and intolerance. Instead, while I was bottling or changing my baby, either August* or the hippy (whose name I don’t know) would say, when Nina’s* baby would spit up after a nursing: “at least it’s not that DISGUSTING formula”!!! Well! After the first time this was said (and it was said MANY times in my hearing) and I saw that Nina said nothing to discourage such statements, I realized I could not even be friends with her. I began to hate and dread going to the mothers room. I went out to the car as often as possible (weather permitting), or stayed home if it was extra hot or cold.
There was another married couple that had their first baby a little after I had my middle child. I didn’t know she was pregnant right away, as she was a larger size, and quite big breasted. After her baby was born, these same catty women were in the mother’s room. This new mom was there formula feeding her baby. I noticed she used the same kind I did. I was about to say something to her, as I felt maybe “we” could talk and be friendly, as I didn’t know her very well. Before I could open my mouth, one of these judgmental women had the nerve to ask her “why” she wasn’t breastfeeding. This lady (whose name I can’t recall) said that she found out she was unable to. She said “as big as I am, they are worthless for feeding my baby”. I’m sure these “true Christian women” made her feel lacking as a good mother, just as I was made to feel. I would’ve liked to have said something at the time, but I think my baby could tell I was really agitated, so I had to take care of my own business. It was very shortly after this incident, that they moved away, due to a job transfer. I was really saddened, because I thought maybe there would be someone there I could relate to.
BTW, breast size is no true indicator of how well you’ll breastfeed, but breast changes during pregnancy can tell you a lot. I wish I could’ve told that new mom what I had read, but I never got a chance.
For those of you who are (or have been) judgmental, intolerant, hateful “true Christian women” in the mother’s rooms, you might think of the hurt you put on people, as you make your snide remarks. I would have Loved to have breastfed exclusively all three of my kids. Unfortunately, after being anointed several times (for each baby), Nothing happened. Something only happened when I took action, got some different books (as mentioned above) and did what I had to do. The important thing is that your baby is healthy and thriving, NOT that the milk came from a boob or a bottle!
It makes me wonder how my friends from my church area would have been, if we’d have had our kids while still in WCG.
Because of the above, and the absolute dread and anxiety I started getting each week (as well as some doctrinal things) we made the decision to quit Global/Living. Life is too short. Why deal with and put up with unpleasant situations if you don’t have to?
One last book for those that may need it. “Bottle-feeding Without Guilt” by Peggy Robbin was very helpful to me to realize that bottle feeding is NOT inferior, NOR does it make us bad mothers.
P.S. Just a few more comments about church teachings, pressures or whatever in regards to birthing babies and how to feed them.
Through my years growing up in the church and beyond, I would always read any article in the PT or GN pertaining to woman and women’s issues, since there were so few of them. I remember Le Leche League being mentioned in certain articles, plus women at church would talk about it. Le Leche League had a large book about breastfeeding. I had that book at one time, until I threw it away in disgust. Even though there is a lot of good advice in there, the overriding thread through the whole book is that “every” woman can breastfeed, and basically a woman is being lazy or just doesn’t care enough about her baby to do it, if she “fails” or has problems.
So even though I probably seemed to come down hard on Nina*, August* and the unnamed sister, I realize where they probably got their ideas. The mom nursed THEM too (the Mom told me personally one day). Of course, anything talked about or written about in the cult (under Herbie especially) was seen as gospel. Remember the “sin” of white sugar and flour? Oh yeah, we MUST have wine and olive oil too!
Another thing that bugged me about the mother’s room rudeness was when I was first trying to get acquainted, we were sharing our birth stories. Since I had gone two weeks overdue and had a stillborn baby the first time (due to a lot of church people pressuring us to “wait” on God, do things “naturally” blah blah), we had planned inducements on our subsequent babies. Which meant an epidural. Once I told “my” experience, I was immediately fluffed off by Nina*, who had to make the comment that “she” did not use any painkillers, for it to be “better for my baby”.
She reminded me at that point of a woman I used to work with. I really liked this particular lady, she was from Texas, and I love to hear southerners talk! But she always had to one-up me or anyone else! It got so frustrating at times, talking with her. And after awhile, a person just learned to keep some things to themselves.
Anyways, thank god (can I say that!?!) that I don’t have to go through all that again. Plus I’ve learned a lot about the whole subject in the process. Hopefully, the books I’ve recommended (I’m keeping these for MY girls) will help someone else struggling through it. Even though nursing didn’t work out as I’d have wished, and others expected, I’m glad I did what I could.
Article by Linda