So according to my Facebook stream, this week is Breastfeeding Awareness Week.
Now in the past 4.5 years I have been a mother, I have noticed something strange in the articles posted on Facebook about breastfeeding awareness.
At first I noticed just a ton of BREAST IS BEST articles with formula shaming flowing rampant in the comment section. Then as time went on, there was a huge movement of women who made a BIG deal of saying that it doesn't matter how you feed your baby- as long as you feed it (also probably not good to call your baby an "it"). Then in the comment section- a giant war of Fomula Users vs Breastfeeding-Is-Super-Easy-What's-Wrong-With-You people.
Now when I see one of these articles posted I grab a bowl of popcorn and click through the comments to be entertained. Seriously it gets so ridiculous. Anyone else know what I'm talking about?
Post: We all love our babies! Good job, Mamas!
Comment 1: How DARE you say we don't love our babies if we use FORMULA!
Comment 2: Why did you say formula is okay? We all know that BREAST IS BEST!
Comment 3: Hey @Comment1 wake up and smell the bottle warmer.
Comment 4: MY NIPPLES ARE BLEEDING
Comment 5: Please stop fighting. Did anyone even read the article?
Comment 6: Do you want to work from home? I have a great plan that will work for you!
Comment 7: I am SO OFFENDED by this. UNLIKE.
Comment 8: Nipples? Who has nipples? I thought that there was a five course meal hidden under that nursing cover?!
Comment 9: This was so encouraging. Thank you.
Comment 10: @Comment9 HOW DARE YOU support the Nippleless Formula Pushers. How.dare.you.
Comment 11: I love the bond that breastfeeding has given me and my baby!
Comment 12: SELFISH! What about your husband's bond with the baby! @Comment11 FOR SHAME.
Comment 13: Why is the baby in the picture not latching correctly? WHY WOULD YOU POST A PICTURE THAT IS SO INCORRECT AND DANGEROUS?
Comment 14: Breastfeeding moms unite! Way to be the BEST!
Comment 15: @Comment14 I have tracked your IEP and if I were you I would sleep with one eye open tonight. #formularocks
Anyone else notice this comment trend (okay maybe I got a touch carried away on some of them)
Two years ago when I saw these articles- no matter how positive the angle, they made me sad thinking about how I wanted to be on one side of the discussion but instead I was on the other. When I read the comments, they made me feel like a ginormous failure. Breastfeeding was always my dream. And for Addison and Carter, for various reasons, I had to switch them to formula after a few months.
I always felt so much stress about this. I felt like I hadn't made it into some sort of elite club. The "good mom" club. The club where they did the BEST for their babies.
But now we are on eight months (with no end in sight) of breastfeeding with Eli, and I have realized something.
I am not a better mom because I am finally breastfeeding. I am not doing a better BEST for Eli than I did for the other two. My motherhood hasn't exploded into sainthood because I pushed through the rough first few weeks and made a go out of this. There is no club. And there is no point of arrival.
I am still just the same mother I ever was- imperfectly fighting to do her best for her babies. I have not failed any of my babies. The method I fed my babies did not make me into a greater or less version of motherhood. It just was.
Tonight when I got a chance to get out running, I got to the point where I wanted to stop- wanted to sit on the side of the road and just relax. But I pushed through- one foot in front of the other even though it wasn't pretty. And I thought how much motherhood is like that. Yes, breastfeeding can be hard. But so is formula feeding. They both have their unique challenges- their points of "hardness" that require pushing through to that next step. And just because the hills fall at different points- doesn't mean that one runner is running a better race than the other.
I am thankful that I am able to breastfeed Eli. I am thankful that I was able to bottle feed Addison and Carter. Because all three of stories ended with me having healthy babies with full, satisfied bellies. That's all that matters.
I wish I could go back to myself two years ago that felt ashamed of the path I was running. I wish I could tell myself to put my chin up. That I was doing an awesome job. That there was no shame in using formula. That someday that baby would be a bright, awesome, healthy, athletically talented little boy (and little girl) who would be no worse for the wear and I wouldn't even care about the formula issue that plagued me so long ago. That I needed to look around and enjoy the scenery instead of focusing only on the rocks at my feet.
So that's my tribute to Breastfeeding Awareness Week. (Well, that and the comments on the comments)
Yes- it is a beautiful thing. But so is formula feeding- because both involve beautiful babies getting the nutrition they need. We are all doing our best for our babies. Having travelled the g-tube, bottle, and breast path with different circumstances leading to each of these choices- I can say with confidence that at the end of the day it's about our babies' needs- not our hopes and dreams.
I wish everyone would just relax on this issue, do their best with their babies, and not worry about labels and comparisons. But just in case- I buy popcorn in bulk from Costco. Because you never know when one of these comments sections will suck you in and hold you captive in its bottle prison.