Thursday, 10 February 2011

Confessions of a Selfish Mommy

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:


Ashlee said...

This is so awesome. I was totally with you when I switched Kaylin. I didn't want many people to know because I'd feel like I failed. But in reality, I didn't fail with anything. =] Rock on fellow formula mommy!

Sharonmanc said...

your totally right, people have to d what is right for them, no one else. I tried breatsfeeding with my first but gave into pressure from my family who had never breast fed and gave up in a few weeks and switched to formula. My son, I formula fed, My mum had died whiel i was pregnant , partner walked out , I was a mess and part of my depression was a disconnection and breastfeeding did not even entermy mind, now lillia I breast fed becasue i coudl i was able to take 7 month maternity leave, and she would not tae a bottle when my initial 6 week plan of breastfeeding was up - that girl loved bubby milk, she kept going until 15 months. In the UK I get the opposite pressure than youm which makes me laugh how different people in different societies view things.

Anyway you dont fail if you formula feed, it is another option, breastfeed if you can great, but it does come with it's down side's , as a responsible parent you made the right choce for you and you lil men. No way is better than the other - it is all about choice - to me those who look down on others probably have issues with them selves but have toproject this on others, they need to get a life so they are not busy interfering in others

Aleah said...

This is exactly why I adore you, Sharon <3

Anonymous said...


I chose breast-feeding, because it allowed me to get MORE sleep and study-time then formula would have.


1. My kid and I co-slept (she in a so-called "baby-balcony" that gets hitched to the bedside), so at night, when she got hungry, I'd just pull her towards me and let her latch on, with both of us still lying down. No getting up, it was fast and afterwards, both of us would just roll over and go back to sleep.

2. I breastfeed mostly while lying down in bed...and reading.My kid would get fed and I'd get my learning done.

Mind you, not everybody can do it that way (I have a friend and she tried nursing while lying in bed and it never really worked for her), but if you can, it's a great alternative and very restful.


Aleah said...

Anda, I never could quite get the hang of lying down and feeding, but then again, I'm barely coordinated as it is :) I'm glad it worked well for you!