In less than two weeks, I will celebrate being a mother for three years.
My almost three year old is wise beyond his years, cares for deeply for others, has the silliest sense of humor, remembers things you told him weeks (even months ago), has never experienced a serious health issue (knock on wood), carries on very clear conversations with you as if he were another adult sitting next to you. And you know what, he was breastfed for under a month of time.
Finding out I was pregnant was such an exciting time, so many new things to look forward to and SO. MANY. things to learn.
During the nine months leading up to his birth, I never had a strong urge to breastfeed. Ever. Nothing about the breastfeeding process appealed to me. I know, what a terrible mother I must be. I acquired a breast pump through our insurance company and thought I would pump and bottle feed.
To me, making myself the ONLY person in the world that could feed this precious baby felt selfish. Not allowing my husband the ability to feed the son he helped create and anxiously anticipated seemed unfair. Signing myself up for a task that would cause a lot of pressure on myself sounded like something that my already anxious, mildly OCD, sometimes depressed mind could not take on.
I was right.
At the hospital I attempted to breastfeed, with little to no help from the nurses, I failed. He wasn’t latching properly, wasn’t eating much, was visibly agitated and hungry. Not a pleasant experience as a two day new mom.
I made the decision in the middle of the night during our stay that I wanted formula because he was hungry and I wasn’t feeding well enough.
The nurse that I requested it from gave me a look, a hesitation, and asked me if I was sure. She acted as though I had just asked her to give me some form of narcotics to feed my son. I assured her that I was positive and then waited what felt like an eternity to receive it. He immediately gulped it down as if he had never eaten before.
I was relieved.
After we settled in at home, I tried again. Privately. In the stress free, comfort of my own home. It still didn’t sit well with me. I wasn’t comfortable. He still didn’t seem like he was eating well. I tried pumping for a few days and woke up one morning to milk-less boobs.
Again, I was relieved.
Breastfeeding is strenuous. Stressful. It takes a lot out of a mother.
Many women I know have changed their diets, their exercise, their LIVES to be able to breastfeed and as admirable I find that, I couldn’t be one of those women.
My mental health requires the ability unload unnecessary stress, to step away from things that are too heavy for me to handle at the moment, to get time to myself.
Breastfeeding, even pumping, does not easily allow for that.
Call me selfish. That is fine.
But my children are happy, healthy, smart, and kind. Everything I could ask for.
I do not and have not ever regret my decision not to breastfeed because I have been able to be the (semi) sane mom that I want to be without having to dread every second of a task that can wear you down so hard.
In my three years of parenting the hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding has filled my Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, newspapers, you name it.
And honestly, I loathe it.
I am not knocking breastfeeding at all. I give kudos to every women that can commit so much time and effort to breastfeeding, especially long term.
But the hashtag has grown so tiresome to me. Breastfeeding mothers use this hashtag to tell the world we need to normalize breastfeeding.
Facebook posts from angry breastfeeding mothers go viral because according to them, someone looked at them for a longer than normal amount of time or asked them to put away the entire boob they had out. Instagrams little squares are filled with women who are out and about with their children and share a photo of themselves breastfeeding every. single. time. their child is hungry.
“We had to stop for some milkies” it will read with a photo of half of someones boob and breastfeeding child.
Pictures of women breastfeeding in their wedding dresses because during their wedding, their baby got hungry. I mean, OH MY GOSH. How crazy, right?
No. These women are mothers. Whether at work, their wedding, at a restaurant, on an airplane, everywhere. They are mothers. If they breastfeed, they will breastfeed at those places just as a bottle feeding mother would also.
But no one takes pictures of the women at their weddings, in their wedding dress, bottle feeding their baby do they? Nope. Why not? Isn’t she being just as good of a mom, you know, taking care of her child under any circumstances?
Not in the eyes of the world we live in. Sadly.
The amount outrage these women feel about getting second looks is baffling to me. As a formula feeding mom – I never felt the urge to take a picture every time my child was drinking a bottle or we had to stop for milk or to even take notice of anyone around us while out and feeding my kids.
It is almost as if some of these women just want to lead a crusade against the world, fighting a battle that doesn’t exist.
I didn’t have a hashtag about normalizing formula or even whole milk to use for every meal photo I posted. I just fed my children.
Why is it that the breastfeeding community feels so strongly about being IN YOUR FACE with it?
Facebook posts about breastfeeding turn into a comment war of mom shaming everyone that says they don’t breastfeed. Telling formula feeding moms that they don’t care about their kids, they’re bad moms, their kids must be unhealthy, stupid, sick, etc.
I have actually witnessed these comments be made to each other and I cannot believe we as mothers are so divided.
The only thing that is not NORMAL about breastfeeding is the pattern of always having to document it, photograph it, show it to the world, throw it into everyones face.
This topic can be discussed in so many different directions, I know, but the hashtag to me is adding a lot of pressure to a lot expecting and new moms that unless they breastfeed until the first day of kindergarten and take 1,000,000 photos of it – they are bad moms.
#normalizeFEEDING your child no matter what way to you choice should be the proper hashtag to use because a fed child is the best kind. End of story.
Moms, it is okay to formula feed. The amount of nutrients in formula will allow your child to thrive just as well as the children around them. The ability to chose of the many formula options you have will help you to pick the right one for your child.
Please, please do not stress yourself to the point that you are not enjoying this beautiful life of motherhood. It isn’t worth your sanity.