Deciding not to breast feed was a difficult decision. Ok, who am I kidding? Deciding anything in this big scary world of parenting, is a difficult decision. But deciding not to breast feed, for me, was the one I have probably struggled with the most.
I tried; I honestly gave it a go. But I was tired. But I was hormonal. But I was in pain. But he was just too hungry. And I gave up. A decision I am not proud of. A decision I wish I would have thought longer about. A decision I will probably always feel guilty about but ultimately a decision I have made my peace with, after today’s events.
I may as well be honest, as at this point, other than you faithful readers, I do not have much to lose. (And I hope you stay with me. One lady in particular, you know who you are. I respect you for your opinions. I really do.)
I wish more than anything I could have breast fed, And that I had persevered, but maybe not for the right reasons. I wanted to breast feed because; yes I wanted to do what was best for my baby. And I was told on countless occasions that breast is best. I wanted to breast feed because, erm, apparently it helps you lose weight? (WITCH, WITCH! SELFISH WITCH! DROWN HER!!) But mostly I wanted to breast feed because I had heard it helps you bond with your baby.
Having suffered pretty badly with post natal depression, I did struggle to bond at first. I blamed it whole heartedly on my selfish decision not to breast feed, and I suppose, in the healing process, I arrived at anger. (With a side order of guilt.)
The reasons, I was told I should breastfeed are still, thrown at me, on a daily basis. (The Drs Office, the health visitor, a dickhead old friend…) It is best for baby being the one I hear most commonly.
I understand why there is propaganda for breast feeding, I really do. I just don’t understand why there isn’t more positive mothering propaganda. Post natal depression is a huge concern in the U.K right now, with many mothers sinking in to a deep dark hole because they feel like a failure. I know propaganda wouldn’t rectify this, but on my darkest days, it would have been nice to see a smiling baby with the slogan ‘Is your baby smiling? Then give yourself a pat on the back’ rather than ‘The best thing about breastfeeding is my milk is never too hot, too cold, and my mummy never runs out. My mummy is doing the best for me.’ Do you see what I mean?
But yeah, best for baby slogans? Those are the ones that upset me the most.
Yes, I am sure breast feeding and the milk your breasts provide, is a more natural way of feeding than, that, that comes in a tin, but it is all relative isn’t it? If formula wasn’t healthy, they wouldn’t sell it would they? Thousands of babies a year wouldn’t have thrived on it would they? And surely what is best for baby is a healthy, happy mummy, who is, in one way or another, regardless of whether it is from a bottle, or a nipple, providing nourishment for her child?
I am not very good at failing. I have a habit of having to succeed at everything. And if I don’t succeed, I pretend I never tried. You know the one. It’s the ‘Oh I never tried that, well done you (and in my mind I’m wringing your neck) dance.’ In my opinion being unable to breast feed was some sort of (ignored but still floating around under a loaded baked potato in my chest) failure. So I will have to admit, when I see a mother breast feeding my first thought is always. ‘Lucky Cowbag’. And my second thought is always, ‘Bet you think you’re perfect don’t you?’ Well you’re not. I am doing my best too.’ (Yes I can be very childish.)
This morning, I accidentally caused a bit of a Kafuffle on Twitter. I had seen breastfeeding affirmation tweets knocking about, and immediately my back was up. So I knocked out a couple of formula feeding affirmations. You are a good mum, etc.
And I only lost 26 followers.
You see the thing is, I go on with myself about how I would never judge a formula mum etc and how dare these breast feeding mothers throw their perfection (My Jealousy) in our faces, but the truth is, they aren’t throwing it in our faces. They are simply proud of themselves for achieving a pre-set goal, and reminding themselves of that fact, so that during the hard times, they can remember what they are achieving. It really is fair enough.
(I am talking here about the mothers, who do not have perfection complexes. Not the 26 who un-followed me for having an opinion.)
So maybe I should stop jumping on the defensive huh? Every breast feeding affirmation is not a dig at formula mothers. (Or is it? You tell me? But I don’t think it is anymore.) And, if that is the case, I will continue with my formula affirmations. To remind myself, during the hard times, I am still a good mum. (Not to dig at the breast feeding mothers.)
This morning has taught me a valuable lesson, which I hope is not too idealistic.
There are two sides to every story and actually, we are all on the same side.
We all want what’s best for our babies.
Having recently spoken to a friend of mine who breast fed she exposed me to some very surprising nuggets of information. She expressed (see what I did there?) that although she absolutely loved breastfeeding and wouldn’t change it for the world, she had sometimes wished she had gone down the formula route, so her other half could help at 3am, when she was dying on her arse, so that she could eat a bit of cheese pie, and so that she could feel once again that her body belonged to her.
Then, rather shockingly, as if to make some sort of point, she showed me her breasts.
‘Look, see! Look how droopy!’ (We are quite close.)
And she was right, they were quite droopy. But, erm, then what’s my excuse? Because mine are waaaay droopier…
But still, I didn’t tell her that. She had shown them to me as proof. Proof of what? I erm, I don’t know… But either way, she was clearly proud of her achievement, and I was proud of her too. (Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my jealousy and guilt began to ebb away.)
I was proud of her because she is a great mother. (Irregardless of how she feeds her son.)
So under order of Queen Bitch (that’s me by the way, but only today. Tommorrow I am just Queen of the world again. Got it?) From here on in, all conversations between formula mums and breast mums, must start like this;
Look Mary, I commend you on your breast feeding.
Look Rachel, well done for the choices you made, you are a great mum.
Look Mary, ultimate respect as it’s clearly so painful!
Look Rachel, I am proud of myself but I do wish it could be easier.
Look Mary, I’m a little jealous of how serene you look while feeding.
Look Rachel, I wish I could tell exactly how much my baby is getting.
Look Mary, you are doing your best you are a great mum.
Look Rachel, Right back at you.
Look Mary, now show me your breasts.
Ok, take that last one out.
But wouldn’t that make more sense than some of the constant judgment that flies around?
Ultimately we are all on the same side right? We are all sleep deprived. We are all knackered. We are all trying our best and we are all, in some ways, new to this mothering Lark. Would it not be easier then, to drop the charade and just help each other out?
Here, take my nipple, I don’t need it.