Out at the mailbox I was greeted with a surprise.
Inside, I called to my Patient Husband, “Sweetie? Do you have something to tell me?” and I handed him a container of infant formula.
He looked puzzled. “Wouldn’t you have to tell that to me?”
Neither of us could come up with how they might have gotten my name. I am not — not — pregnant, and my youngest Kiddo is over two years old. We have no baby-related magazine subscriptions; I haven’t purchased a baby-related gift for a friend. I’ve purchased yarn, but not everyone who knits is expecting.
I opened the box to find an entire can of the stuff, plus multiple coupons for $$ off other cans. I looked in the advertising material for a website where I could opt out of their advertising campaign and set the can of formula on the table to put in the “to be donated” stack.
It did occur to me that my mailman, who knows everything about everyone in Angelborough, probably thinks we’re about to become Eight Angels, Five Kids, One Family, but not a problem unless he tells everyone on our route.
Formula advertising is aggressive. I’ve always made sure to check off the “I plan to breastfeed” box on any form with that option, and they’ve only targeted me more. Over thirteen years I’ve received bottles of liquid formula, coupons, “checks,” diaper bags, freezer gel packs, insulated bags, and magazines about infant nutrition that begin with “Of course breast is best, but–” and then follow up with twenty pages about how to choose the best formula for your baby and how to make formula feeding to work for you.
I don’t mind. I’ve donated up to twenty cans or bottles of formula to the food pantry because of their largesse.
That is to say, I didn’t mind until they broke my little girl’s heart. Kiddo#2 came into the kitchen while I tried to navigate the formula company’s website to find the opt-out screen.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Oh, that’s infant formula,” I said. “It’s what babies drink when they don’t nurse.”
She said, “Oh,” and then three seconds later her face went brilliant with a smile as she gasped.
“No!” I exclaimed, because it wasn’t the mailguy I should have worried about. “No, it was a mistake! They sent it to us by mistake!”
Her shoulders deflated, and her smile drooped. Because for one hope-filled moment, she was a big sister to another baby.
I finally found the opt-out page and worded it strongly that I wanted to be removed from their list and never re-entered onto it. An hour later they wrote back with an apology and the assurance that I’d been removed. And Kiddo#2 has recovered.
But I think it’s kind of sweet how she was delighted by the thought of another sibling.