Wednesday, July 6, 2011
The Mommy War
4 + years ago I got pregnant with N and went into a tizzy of trying to get all the right books are read the right things to prepare myself to become a first time mom. Towards the end of my pregnancy I realized I knew how to do most of the things like changing diapers, clothes, meds if needed, burping etc BUT I had no idea how to breastfeed. So 8 month pregnant I waddle my way to the local bookstore and start to read through the chunk of breastfeeding books, even came across a book from a self proclaimed expert (not a Dr) that stated if a woman cannot breastfeed shes just not trying hard enough and clearly not a good mother. Oh my! The fear set in a little, What if I couldn't breastfeed? What if he didn't like it? What if I HATED it? No No not possible. Then I talked to the lactation consultant at my local WIC office and heard the same. If its painful I'm not doing something correct etc. Ok... I'm for sure going to breastfeed. After all I want the best for him right? I'm going to be the perfect mom right? (Yeah right) August 21st I am induced and have a gorgeous 8lb 4oz baby boy and that night we start in on trying to breastfeed. It..is..awful. More nurses more consultants telling me I'm not doing something right. Awesome. I get home and try to feed for 3 1/2 weeks at one point through the pain and sleep deprived delirium I think I love it, for about 2 days. Then I hit PPD as N hit his first growth spurt and I couldn't keep up feeding him. I completely broke down. J comes home from work after a frantic call from me to find me sobbing in a corner partially because I was in so much pain and part because I felt like a failure as a mother. It didn't help to have the words of mothers for the last 9 months echoing in my head "you're going to breastfeed right? Oh good girl" J talked some sense into me and we bought some formula. It was amazing. He was full, happy and stopped crying. We had some formula troubles too, for the time being we thought he was lactose intolerant when we found out he is actually hormone and additive intolerant. We switched to prosobee and I had a dream baby. Then I had to go back to work and more guilt set in. fast forward through the mess of my life that Ive already blogged frequently about to me staying home with N and pregnant with Baby M. Again other peoples questions as well as my own start popping in, "Will I attempt to breastfeed again?" Will I really try to put myself through it again? I agonized over my choice for months with J in the background telling me formula is just fine, my Dr's telling me that formula is close to breast milk and I need to focus on being a great mommy too even my own mother and mother in law saying its ok, just bottlefeed. It wasn't that easy for me here was my 2nd chance to be the perfect mom again.. But alas I decided that I needed to formula feed and joined support groups online to help me through the guilt. That was a great decision! This group on Facebook has been amazing. Mothers exchanging stories of their smart, rarely sick, sweet, fun, perfectly healthy children. Caring, intelligent moms that chose not to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. Yesterday one of them posted an article about breastfeeding that opening my eyes and the guilt has dissolved. I know made the right choice for Baby M, our family, and myself.
The war doesn't just stop at breastfeeding unfortunately, it extends to Attachment Parenting, Co-Sleeping, crying it out sleep training, diapering, etc. I have been on the hostile side of some Natural Parenting parents (I'm going to insert here that I have very good friends that are breastfeeding, natural, AP, Cloth diapering parents and have been incredible, supportive and informative to all questions I have had with no judgement. The perspective I'm showing if from a majority that I have experienced but in no way my only experience and not all natural parents are pushy whack jobs) The reason I have set the following scenario of the treatment that I and some of my other friends have received is because I want to clear up a few things that I feel are misconceptions about certain parenting styles.
1. I am a practicing "cry it out" sleep training mommy. There are numerous studies done by both opposing sides showing the pros and cons to the CIO method. I'm not going to lie. It's a difficult thing to do. As a mom you' re hardwired to run to the aid of your child when the cry, however. At some point your child will need to know how to soothe themselves. It seems like the anti crying it out group think that when I'm tired of tending to my baby I stick him in his crib and ignore his cries while I pour myself a glass of wine and draw a bubble bath. Nope. You check for full tummy, clean diaper, baby is not sick or in pain and right when they are sleepy but not over tired (this requires being attentive and in tune with your child) lay them in their crib to fall asleep on their own. Sometimes especially when they're older they will cry. Check on them in minute intervals. 5-10-15-20 and comfort them to let them know they aren't alone. Usually after 3 days your baby will be sleeping on their own and quickly through the night. I in no way just let my kids idly cry themselves to sleep.
2. Bottlefeeding and Baby Bonding:
Listen this will be short and sweet. If you cant or don't want to breastfeed no biggie, hold your baby, snuggle them and feed them with a bottle, hold it in the same position where your breast is and talk to your baby and make eye contact. Both my boys are incredibly bonded to me, no boobs required. Even better Dad (or other mama) can join in too. If you're worried about lack of skin to skin contact practice baby massage or unbutton your shirt a little.
3. Keep in mind you're a mommy first but also still a woman and a spouse and your significant other loves you too (that's how baby got here) If you like the benefits of co-sleeping the awesome. I'm not a fan personally for multiple reasons. Besides some safety issues my top reason is I still need my own space an time to stay mentally healthy. My adult bed for my adult things. My kids have their own safe lovely beds and using the sleep training helps them learn to sleep in their own space. I like it because Id rather not have to deal with the fussing of sleeping in their own bed when they get older.
4. Babywearing. I love it. Its amazing. Its the extra hands I wish God had given me when I had children. Its handy and snugly and amazing. I fully believe in the benefits of babywearing. HOWEVER. When I am in public and its 90 degrees out and I'm sweating profusely and my son is naturally hot natured like his father and I have my baby in his stroller instead please no dirty looks. Thanks.
5. Cloth diapering. I LOVE LOVE LOVE CDing! Extreme couponing my ass. I will save thousands of dollars over the course of cloth diapering. Not to mention the environmental benefits. Its amazing. When N was a baby it wasn't an option for me at all though. Working FT and trying to keep up on diaper laundry. Uh no thanks. I couldn't keep up on reg laundry. Then with Baby M I looked into it but it seemed so expensive. As he got older I researched some more and talked to a few CDing friends found the Econobum Starter Kit for $49.99. Great way to try it out and see if it'll work for you. Especially with disposable diapers going up. But if you're a working mom or really busy CD may not be for you. Just reach out and ask people for info and see what works for you.
6. Childbirth. I'd Love to have a water birth someday. However my hospital doesn't offer it. I'm sure home births work very well for most women. Due to the issues I've had in the past I personally am not comfortable with it. That being said I am a pain pansy and I would prefer to not feel my woman part tear open anymore than most people want to feel the teeth get ripped out of their head at the dentist. If I decide to have an epidural in the future that is my choice because its my vagina. Also if you have a penis you have no input on what the best thing is for me. You will not ever experience childbirth the way a woman will so until you do keep your mouth closed. Thanks :)
7. Lastly.. Love & Logic
It may seem cruel that my son has choices and consequences like no toys or no TV time or even scrubbing the floor. He's 3 with chores and is required to clean up his messes. He gets an allowance and if he wants a new toy he has to use his own money. All these things may seem mean or unfair but its a proven loving empathetic system and more importantly its not your kid ;) I'm working on raising children that are responsible and prepared for life in a loving positive way (but also letting him still be a kid) I love L&L Its been a life saver for me. If anyone has questions I have a link to their site below and you can email me and ask anything :)
These are the things I get judged for. These are the things I get eye rolls, how could you's, or you're making a mistake's over. This is my own freedom declaration . I'M the mommy. J is the daddy. We've got a few years, tons of mistakes (or learning opportunities) and lots of research guided by our higher beliefs to help us be great parents. I hope if other moms are struggling with their own choices or decisions and are bombarded by naysayers that they keep on. And as the moms that are being attacked or ridiculed lets not return the favor. The other moms that make us feel so small and horrid have their own insecurities and we shouldn't attack them either. We are moms, we are women and we are all trying. Lets band to together and share practices to raise well balanced healthy kids into adults and focus on educating young inexperienced (or even older inexperienced) mothers. Maybe educating the overwhelmed can prevent REAL child abuse.
"The Case Against Breastfeeding" By: Hanna Rosin
The Love & Logic Institute: