I was so nervous as I sat waiting for them to pull me back into the room to talk about our situation. I had never in a million years thought I would be here. I had always pictured it as something other people needed. I was strong and smart, I worked hard and so did my husband; we shouldn’t be here. We weren’t that desperate, were we?
At 4 months old, my daughter was still breastfeeding and it was becoming extremely stressful. I had just found out I was pregnant again and my milk supply dropped dramatically. When my daughter hit 6 months, she was barely eating any breastmilk and was starting to look thinner than I thought was healthy. I didn’t want to push it, I didn’t want to put her at risk, so we decided it was time to switch to formula.
Formula breaks the bank
I had no idea how expensive formula truly was. It would cost us $180 per month to feed our daughter formula and on top of that, she was ready to eat baby food. We just couldn’t afford it. We both worked but with my husband in school and other debts needing to be paid off, we just could not afford another $180 tacked onto our grocery bill.
I tried everything I could not to turn towards the one thing I was ashamed to do: accept government help. I didn’t want to be one of those people everyone bashes on whenever something about food stamps or food programs came up. I was so embarrassed, but my daughter needed milk. For weeks, I just tried to make it work; we would have meals of cheap cereal or whatever we could afford so she would have milk. Finally, a friend of mine confided that she had gotten help from WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and it was a huge help to her family. Not only that, but the amazing women at WIC helped educate her about her baby’s nutrition.
I took your tax money
I went in for my appointment and felt so out of place. My mind was screaming, “this is not right, you are not a ‘freeloader!'” That horrible term, freeloader, that people throw out whenever anything about government help comes up on the news just kept rolling through my head. But I did it; I took the help. I even argued with the ladies that we didn’t need all of the help they were giving us, but they didn’t let me turn it away. We were so blessed to receive what we did and I didn’t realize how much of a relief it would be.
It’s ok to need help
If you are a mom or dad that is struggling, it’s ok to get help. It’s ok to take that money; it does not diminish how hard you work. It does not make you a bad parent or less than. It makes you a strong one. It makes you someone willing to humble themselves for their children, and that is more powerful than any opinion. You are fighting to give your child every advantage and that is more than enough.
YOU ARE A GOOD PARENT.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic.