Why is it that so many women feel the need to make excuses for their parenting choices? And yeah, I used to do it. After my first son was born via c-section, I felt I needed to qualify that with "it was an emergency c-section" and "his heart rate was going down" and "I wasn't dilating." Now granted, I didn't walk into the labor ward and say "Hey ladies, I'd like an epidural right now, and can we do this via c-section?" - but so what if I had?
Oh, right. I forgot. Mommy hell. Meaning, if you don't have a life-threatening situation for not birthing naturally, or a documented medical reason for why you're not breastfeeding, then you're a selfish bitch who shouldn't have kids if you're not ready to sacrifice every goddamn minute (waking AND sleeping) to your children.
Ahem. I realize I had a post about my crunchy [half]day I needed to write (like 4 days ago) but I had ANOTHER mommy blog emailed to me, with the usual I feel so guilty for not (insert currently socially acceptable mothering technique) and I feel like I need to explain why I make my parenting choices that seems to permeate a rather large faction of the blogosphere. That plus my pot and a half of Lively Columbian has given me the shakes and my overdeveloped sense of justice has been rankled. Again.
People do have legitimate reasons (other than being Selfish Mommy) for being unable to breastfeed, or to be a stay-at-home mom, or not having time to grow, harvest, and puree their own baby food. But since when is "I'd just like to get more sleep" akin to child abuse when deciding to switch to formula? It's been said many times, but that doesn't make it any less true - if mama ain't happy, no one's happy - and if mama would be happier letting daddy or grandma feed the baby every once in a while, it's okay. Your baby will not be any less intelligent, good-looking, or healthy than other babies just because you give him formula. I know, I know - you've got a bunch of google 'research' that tells you otherwise, right? That and the pressure from SuperMommy at the park can be pretty daunting. Well, instead of getting into a War of Google Links, let's just use a wee bit of common sense. How many people do you know have been fed formula, or feed it to their kids? Are the majority of them of subnormal intelligence, unattractive, and constantly ill? What about the breastfed people? Can you tell who's been breastfed or formula fed, just by looking and talking to them?
Didn't think so.
With my younger boy, I had originally planned to give him formula. He had delayed passage of meconium, which necessitated a short stay in the NICU. While there I changed my mind and decided that I wanted to breastfeed, which got me pats on the back from the nursing staff, a gold star from the rounding doctors, and free meals in the cafeteria - in short, I was rewarded. I received validation and approval from everyone who knew of my choice, and that felt good.
After about two weeks, I had almost had it. I was back at school full time, leaving the nursing floor at clincals to go pump (and on a few hectic occasions unable to pump at all), studying my ass off, and nursing my boy about every 2 hours. I was so exhausted I sat on the couch during my 3am feedings and bawled, because I had to be up for clinicals at 4:30 so definitely no going back to sleep. I wanted to give him a bottle so bad, but you know why I didn't? Because I felt like my decision to discontinue nursing would let down other people. That's right. A decision that was absolutely no one else's fucking business is actually EVERYONE'S business in MommyLand, and if I didn't have a good enough excuse ready, then I was opening myself up to a barrage of "oh, but have you tried pumping so you can get a break?" (that's actually NOT a break, FYI) and "but NUMEROUS studies have shown that your child will be a serial killer if you give him formula!" and "how about these herbs to increase your supply?" and "yes, even if you have a patient that's coding, you can still get your pumping break" and the unspoken but heavily implied "EVERYONE WILL THINK YOU ARE A SELFISH, BAD, BAD MOMMY IF YOU QUIT."
After two months, I did quit. I made half-hearted excuses related to my clinical hours/time spent at school/diminishing milk supply, but to be perfectly honest - I just felt like getting more sleep. Sue me.
So how about we stop being so judgmental about other women's choices? It's shallow, it's petty, and it's highly unbecoming. I think it's great that some mothers keep things as natural as possible - I've made several friends who breastfeed exclusively, cloth diaper, and homeschool, and they're some of the least judgmental ladies I know. What they do takes a tremendous amount of time and dedication, and I'm not belittling that. But not one of us is any better than the other. We all have a goal of raising happy, healthy, and successful children. There are a lot of different ways to accomplish that. Share your methods, don't push them. Talk, don't lecture. And don't ever apologize or feel you need to justify why you do things the way you do.
My formula-fed Baby Einsteins: