Breastfeeding is a personal decision, but for new mom Meghan Koziel there was no decision to be made at all – it was impossible.
Judgemental mothers, nurses, and visitors who might have tried to approach her about bottle feeding her newborn in the hospital were stopped in their tracks by a giant, pink sign she hung above her bed – one that will hopefully make people think twice about broaching the subject with any mother.
Koziel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 at the age of 26 and had to have a double mastectomy. She had nothing to breastfeed from.
And as you might imagine, it’s a sensitive topic for her after dozens of rounds of radiation treatment and multiple surgeries – one she didn’t want to have to explain to a new nurse or a curious visitor while she’s enjoying her miracle baby.
In a post on Instagram, she described her struggle:
“Three years ago when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I thought my life would never ever be the same. I was forced to make so many HUGE life decisions including preserving my fertility through an egg retrieval was one of them. After two years on hormone blocking medications (because my cancer is so aggressive and highly affected my estrogen and progesterone), I made the decision to go off of my medications to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a mom!”
Koziel did have reconstructive surgery, so it might look like she can breastfeed, but she simply didn’t have the anatomy to produce breast milk any longer.
Her sign was an effort pre-empt any shaming or repetitive questions from nurses who didn’t communicate that information to each other between shifts.
And the nurses appreciated her efforts!
Her specially-made read:
No Breastfeeding Zone
Though breastfeeding is a very special task,
Please be aware before you ask.
Our miracle baby will be formula fed,
And it will not affect her future ahead.
This Mommy is a Survivor.
Koziel’s daughter Kendra Jane (named partly after her oncologist) was born healthy on September 15th, 2018.
As a public service, she posted a photo of her sign to Instagram the day before giving birth with the message:
“Attention please, attention please. We do indeed have a mommy-to-be who had breast cancer and a mastectomy which means, without boobs in the houseeeee! Got the banner raised just in case people are confused at why we are NOT going to be breastfeeding our little bundle of joy. Yes I have foobs, no I do not have boobs (or nipples) therefore… my body is incapable of breastfeeding:) -sign was made by me!!!!!)”
In an interview with Parents Magazine, Koziel, who is a child occupational therapist, said she had worked in a hospital setting before and knew that patient information was easily miscommunicated, so her sign was merely a way of avoiding having to tell her painful story over and over again on the happiest day of her life.
Sadly, she can’t take that sign everywhere, and still faced criticism from strangers when she fed her baby from a bottle in public.
But she had a message for all the moms who have to deal with those types of “trolls”:
“To all the mommies like me facing complicated health histories of facing social media trolls for how you’re raising your child, I would say… keep on being you! We all must make decisions that are best for our families, and it is truly no one else’s business if it doesn’t affect them! Raise your child surrounded by love and with happiness and that baby will be amazing.”
If Koziel’s Instagram page is any indication, the family is all happy and healthy.
Koziel just celebrated her 30th birthday and is cancer-free – and Kendra Jane has grown up to be one very happy toddler.
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