Or as I like to call it: The Week Where I Feel Really Shitty About Myself.
I’m just going to be honest here, write about my own feelings and experiences. I’m not trying to start any crazy debate or arguments. These are feelings I still struggle with. And I’m a little scared to hit the “publish” button. 🙂
I fully intended on breastfeeding Avery. Like 10 minutes after she was born, she latched on like a pro. We were going to rock this. And we rocked it. For 4 weeks. Fail.
I’m not entirely sure where it all started falling apart. Because it’s hard to remember events correctly when you are only allowed 2 hours of sleep here and there. If you are lucky. But I do remember crying about it. A lot. I tried to pep myself up by reminding myself that we are doing the best we can. A happy, healthy baby is the most important thing. She will be perfectly fine if she bottle feeds. Apparently not everyone believes that…
Did you know that when you have a baby people think they can ask you the most personal [inappropriate] questions? Yes, having a baby gives people the right to ask you, a total stranger, things that are none of their business. And then they will judge you no matter your response. It’s fun.
A couple of weeks after I became a miserable failure at feeding my child, I was at a graduation party. I was taking Avery somewhere quiet to do a diaper change. On my way, we ran into a woman who had a baby that looked a couple of months older than Avery. She asked how old she was (6 weeks) complimented her (she’s very cute) and then said, “So you’re still breastfeeding then?” Whoa, Lady I’ve Never Met! Back off. I was too shocked to come back with a bitchy comment that I just said, “Nope. We did for a bit and it didn’t work out for us.” She looked at me like I had sprouted another arm or something. Confused shock. And I walked away. But even more than a year after the fact, I still feel the same shame as that day. How (and more importantly, why) does that comment and reaction still stick with me? Maybe because it was the first time I was judged for my parenting choice. By a stranger, no less.
I think the guilt would have faded away quicker if people were to be encouraging of both types of feeding. Not just breastfeeding. I feel like there is no support for bottle feeding mothers. And it still makes me sad.
At the Doctor: Are you breastfeeding? Yes. Good for you. The next visit: Are you still breastfeeding? No. Oh…
Breast is best. I know it is. But thanks for making me feel like I’m not doing what’s best for my child. As a new parent questing every. single. little. thing, that makes everything better.
Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural. Sorry, I’ll be over here feeding my monster-child. Avert your eyes!!
Aaagh! So much guilt. Guilty for bottle feeding. Guilt because I really loved getting the extra sleep while Jeremy fed Avery. 5 hours in a row felt magical. Guilt that I was feeling guilt. Maybe I just need professional help? Don’t answer that. 🙂
This isn’t to say that I didn’t have a good support system. Because I did. And still do. My family and friends never made it an issue and enjoyed getting the chance to feed Avery. Because bottle or breast, feeding is a unique bonding experience. I’m mostly saying that as a new parent who is already thinking she is doing everything wrong, it would have been nice to have a little outside validation. Any amount.
And would never say that we shouldn’t celebrate breastfeeding. Because it can be so hard and a huge struggle and we should applaud every success! Your body is doing amazing work! Keep it up, Mama!
But when World Breastfeeding Week comes around, I get 7 whole days of remembering how I wasn’t good enough to be in your club.
So next time you see a mom with a young child, feeding them with a bottle, tell her she’s doing a good job. Because I promise you she hasn’t heard that encouragement about her choice. Ever.