We women sure do put a lot of pressure on each other.
Some women are all Pinterest this, and Pinterest that. Cloth diapers. Natural labor (It’s all natural, honey!). Breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding. That’s my personal favorite. “WHAT??” she says, in that contentious voice. “You don’t breastfeed?”
No, I didn’t let either of my babies suck on a dry boob and nearly starve to death. Sorry we don't agree.
I tried. Boy, did I EVER try. I don’t mean that my babies wouldn’t latch. I mean that I was dry. Sahara Desert dry. Before you sic your Le Leche League president on me, know that I really did try everything (within reason), but no amount of popcorn, O’Douls, oatmeal or vitamins/minerals/supplements worked. I visited three lactation specialists, and the third one I saw, on day seven postpartum, actually told me that 100 years ago, I would have needed a nursemaid or a goat. A goat! Luckily, in the 21st century, we have infant formula.
And I’m here to tell you that Satan didn’t make formula.
It was a hard realization for me to swallow, but not my baby. She took that bottle of formula faster than you can say “Enfamil.” As soon as I saw how satiated she was, I felt 100 percent comfortable having a formula-fed baby. And guess what? Both of my babies are happy, healthy, thriving little people who’ve been sleeping through the night since they were 11 weeks old.
It amazes me — nay — appalls me that perfect strangers will ask if I breastfeed and give me a look of both shock and disappointment when I declare that I formula fed both of my babies. When did it become okay to ask anyone something so personal — especially a stranger? When did speaking freely and expertly about breastfeeding become part of our everyday vernacular? Don’t misunderstand me; this is not to say that I’m anti-breastfeeding or anything of the sort. If you can do it and feel comfortable doing so, more power to ya.
All of these questions about breastfeeding, and my futile attempts to do so, really added unnecessary guilt and pressure when I was a first time mom. I just had to do better! As soon as my first baby hit four months old, I decided to make all of her baby food. It was the least I could do since I couldn’t breastfeed and it made me feel better since I’d been poisoning my child with formula, after all.
Thatcher Thompson is a happy (and formual-fed) baby.
Fast forward two years and I became a mother for the second time. I couldn’t nurse him because, again, I was dry. (Yes, I’m sure. I was, in fact, dry.) When the time came, I began making his baby food. Well after a month of feeding that man-child, I decided I just couldn’t keep up. I found myself spending six hours on Sunday making baby food. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
I had to do the unthinkable.
I bought baby food.
And that’s okay.
As moms, we have to know our limitations. We have to stop pressuring ourselves and letting other women pressure us. Babies don’t come with a manual, and what works for one baby doesn’t always work for another. If your baby came home from the hospital sleeping through the night, it doesn’t mean another mom’s method is wrong. (But it does mean your baby is quite special and I hope they give you hell in their teen years. I jest!)
If you choose to breastfeed, good for you. Good for your baby. If you produced as much milk as a Jersey cow but didn’t feel your lifestyle was conducive to nursing your baby or simply didn’t want to, that’s okay too.
We all want what’s best for our children, and as mothers we should have the discretion to decide what that is. And when Mother Nature decides for us what our bodies can (and cannot) do, we have to accept it and love ourselves anyway.
Many say that “breast is best.” I say, “best” is whatever keeps you sane and works for your family. Respect others’ choices, and stop making other moms feel bad. Just stop.