Friday, August 07, 2015

Breastfeeding Week

It's time to weigh in, and it may not be pretty.  Some people know my journey with breastfeeding was not a good one.  It was filled with difficulty and ended way too soon, when it was clear I was not producing enough milk to nourish my growing boy.  And before you say anything about how any woman can breastfeed if they really, really try.  Not true.  I did try.  I power pumped, ate lactation cookies, drank Mother's Milk tea, drank stout beer, and tried to breastfeed every hour.  I never got any more than a couple of ounces at a time on the pump, and my baby was always hungry.  And he was almost "failure to thrive."  That's when we decided to supplement.  I supplemented and breastfed for two months with Nathan and then stopped.  It was too emotionally and physically draining to keep trying at that point.  I was becoming depressed and had to go back to work, so I reluctantly breastfed my son for the last time.  I knew it was the last time, and it was hard to give it up, but I did because I felt like I had to.

Enter baby #2.  We were very successful with breastfeeding.  I exclusively fed him for two months and then started weaning because I knew I was going back to work.  But then I didn't go back to work.  My supply had already tanked and I just couldn't get it back.  So again, I fed my baby for the last time and said goodbye to that relationship.

But I kept feeding my babies.  Nathan got formula (and baby food starting at 4 months with our pediatrician's blessing) until he was a year old, and by that time he was interested only in real food, so that's what we did.  Nicholas is on formula and is enjoying baby food as well.  Nathan is an incredibly healthy, well-adjusted kid who is happy and intelligent and completely normal.  Actually, he is probably above average in intelligence, based on some of the assessments I've gotten from friends who know about these things.  Nicholas is thriving on his formula as well, and he just started crawling - at 7 months old.

I say all that to say this.  Breastfeed, bottle feed, do whatever you want, as long as it nourishes your baby.

All this competition, all these Mommy Wars, and really, shouldn't we be focused on taking care of our children - and each other?  Motherhood is hard.  It is made even harder with the constant stream of judgmental remarks, memes, articles, and everything else we see, screaming at us from our phones and computer screens.  For a moment, let's just stop and say to each other, "you're doing okay."  For a moment, let's stop judging each other and start caring for each other.  In fact - let's do that for ALL the moments.

Do I think we need a Breastfeeding Week?  Sure I do.  Here's the thing.  Women are kicked out of restaurants and stores for feeding their babies.  If my baby gets hungry in the store, I break out the bottle and nobody cares.  While some formula feeding moms face judgment and scorn for not breastfeeding, I have never heard of someone being kicked out of a restaurant for breaking out the bottle.  Or told to cover up her baby while feeding.  So yes, I think we need awareness.  And yes, I think we need laws to protect breastfeeding mothers and their babies.

But what I KNOW is that we shouldn't use these occasions to shame others.  To shame those who feel that their bodies failed them.  To tell other moms that some babies will have more success in life because they were fed a certain way.  To call formula "poison" and say that moms who feed it to their babies are giving them inferior nourishment.  To scorn someone or judge someone for feeding her baby the best way she can. 

When Jon and I had to take Nathan to the pediatric allergist, we saw a baby drinking a bottle - with Coke in it.  I hoped it was juice, but he shook the bottle and it was clearly carbonated.  That's something we can judge.  ;)

Formula is nourishment, scientifically formulated to be as close to breast milk as possible.  And my two boys have thrived on it.

Do I feel guilty?  I did at one time.  I don't anymore.  As long as my babies are healthy, and as long as they are getting the nourishment they need, that's okay with me.  I mean, Nathan does eat dog food sometimes, so I can't be too fussy about how he was fed as an infant.

So let's live and let live, Mommys!  Let's forget about our labels and our parenting styles and our controversial issues and just be moms.  And just love our kids and do the best we can for them.  That's what's important in the end anyway, not what they were fed for the first year of their life.

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