I had planned to breastfeed. I read the books, investigated the scary looking pump, and bought nursing bras. When it turned out that I was unable to produce anywhere near enough milk to feed Chloe, I was devastated... which honestly surprised me as there was a good chance (due to a past medical situation) that I wouldn't be able to exclusively breastfeed. So, I knew this was a distinct possibity and had spent some time prepping myself for it. But, I had to constantly remind myself that giving her formula does not make me a bad mother. I took pills for a month to try to up my prolactin levels and for 6 long weeks, I pumped anywhere from 4-8 times a day (I was slacking toward the end there) and gave her any little bit that I had. Deciding to stop pumping my miniscule amount of milk was another tough internal battle.
Now, Chloe is fed extensively on formula and mostly it's fine... well, it's entirely fine with her - she's well-fed and very happy. I'm the one that's mostly fine... I'm happy that my muppet is happy and I won't lie - there's a lot of convenience associated with using formula. But, every time I whip out a bottle in public, I feel myself start to get defensive... regardless of whether or not someone says something to me or not. When someone asks me if I am breastfeeding, I always feel like I need to tell them my whole story rather than simply saying "No." And then I guiltily remember that before being in this boat, I have judged (silently, to myself) other mothers for their choices.
It's like the day care vs. nanny vs. stay at home mom debate. Everyone is completely convinced that their side of the debate is the only right one and that those that go an opposite way are some how not trying hard enough... which is bull. We're all trying hard enough.
I think all of this is born out of the fact that we are actually spending most of the time judging ourselves. It's like moms have to lash out against someone doing it differently so they don't have the time to question whether or not they're the ones screwing it up.
So, I was thinking this morning how cool it would be if we all decided that we would get off this merry-go-round and stop judging ourselves and each other.
And then another thought occurred to me: we should take a lesson from the Daddies because I don't think men do this... to themselves or to each other.
I remember very clearly the moment I realized I was producing almost no milk and I held off on crying until Diane left. Ed looked at me and he said "What's wrong? I don't understand - this is all ok - we now know how to feed her! We can move forward with confidence."
What it comes down to is this: Ed doesn't understand why we should get upset that things didn't go as planned because as it turns out, we have a daughter who is beautiful and healthy and happy and well-nourished. And I've decided he's right.