In light of the recent (and quite frivolous) controversy surrounding Time’s breast-feeding cover, I felt it necessary to blog about m’boobs. Mostly, though, I wanted to show my blog friend Christina that I refuse to be the last woman on earth to post about breastfeeding.
I really don’t give two flying flips if a mom chooses to breastfeed or not, how long she chooses to do it, why it is that she supports her decision one way or the other. I didn’t breastfeed my first for several boring reasons – Bean was almost 6 weeks early, delivered via emergency c-section after my blood pressure skyrocketed into stroke-out numbers due to pre-ecclampsia. I was tired, recovering from major surgery, and scared sh*tless that apparently it was no joke of Mother Nature’s that I was chosen to be a mom.
When Bean was an infant I fell into a group of mamas who adopted the attachment parenting style. This term means several different things depending on whom you ask, but to me it meant cloth diapers and co-sleeping, and I was considered to me an AP-Lite mom. The hardcore members of this often elitist circle pretty much never put down their children – they took that sh*t seriously. I often felt purposely excluded from several conversations – both online and in person – because I didn’t breastfeed. According to the AP justification that I encountered, I was pretty much depriving my child of immunity to all diseases or any chance of having an IQ over 45. I was actually accused (this really did happen) of stunting his growth and causing psychological delay and harm by denying him my breast milk.
Naturally I developed an inferiority complex, and everything that came up during Bean’s first year that was not “normal” or “on-track” with the general growth guidelines was contributed to not breastfeeding. Long story short: Bean is now 4, and smarter than a good 79% of the adults I come into contact with on a daily basis. He’s also super healthy and has never had – knock on wood – any major illness, broken bone, or major health concern.
When I had Beatrice I knew I was going to try my hardest to show even the most militant of the AP mamas that I was freakin’ hardcore. Bea was full-term, I was healthy, the repeat c-section went swimmingly, and I was an old pro at this mom shindig. But that little girl would not breastfeed, and I was admittedly miserable about the whole experience. I spent the first week of her life in tears, in pain, sleepless, and racked with guilt for feeling like I was a failure. I even went daily to the local lactation consultant, who spend the hour I had in her room by gossiping about her dating life with her equally useless coworker. Exhausted and out of ideas (why is it that there are no wet nurses any more??), I gave in and bought a breast pump. For the next 3 months I hooked those two horns up to my chest EVERY 2 HOURS to make sure I would produce enough to feed my 99th percentile baby girl, who apparently thought that eating was an hourly event.
My Bean, a little over 2 at the time, became extremely needy and started with some attention-seeking behavior that normally rears its ugly I’m-not-the-baby-anymore head in most older siblings upon the arrival of a new baby. However I was pretty tightly would and decided that I had enough of feeling like Farmer Brown’s prized milk heifer. Long story short: Bea is now 2, not nearly as advanced as Bean was at that age but on target for her age. She also has had several minor childhood illnesses that Bean never had, along with a very severe case of pneumonia when she was just shy of a year old, that landed her in the hospital for 3 days. I was so happy when I finally retired the stupid breast pump that I seriously considered destroying it in a manner that
The point in these stories is not to shake my finger at those who staunchly support breastfeeding with every single mammary gland and milk duct in their body, like the women in the Time article seemingly do. I also don’t want to discount breastfeeding; scientifically, biologically, it’s really what is inherently best for both parties involved. BUT there is a but to the whole breastfeeding hoopla. Some women don’t want to do it, medically and physically there are some mothers who are unable to do it, and so on. They are not in any way less of a mother than those who pull double nursing duty or pose self-importantly with her suckling oversized toddler (kid does not look 3 years old) for a biased and unfair magazine article.
The point of my relatable yet still-sassy anecdotal blog post? You do you, mama. If you are doing what’s best for you and your family, then you are a being a good mother and a productive member of society. Remember the saying: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”