Monday, February 2, 2009

Breastfeeding Nazis Can Bite My Left Tit.

Girls Gone Child has a post up (technically a link to Momversation but whatever) that is about breastfeeding Nazis who feel compelled to call you out for bottle-feeding your baby. It's worth a watch/read.

Judging by the comments left on her post my own breastfeeding journey has not been typical.

While I was pregnant with Skylar (Goober) Adam was studying holistic nutrition and thus he was pretty gung ho on the whole idea of breastfeeding. Exclusive breastfeeding! Extended breastfeeding!! The only responsible thing a sane person could possibly do!!! Which would have worked out perfectly had he possessed mammary glands. Since I was the one blessed with the boobies though, I agreed to six months.

Far from having strangers confront me about bottle feeding my baby, I felt pressured to give up nursing. People seemed to assume that as a teen mother (read: irresponsible whore) I would naturally be inclined to feed my baby formula. For some reason only mature women are expected to breastfeed. Ha! I would show them, dammit. I was going to be a good mom if it killed me! Therein lies the problem: It was killing me.

Physically everything was fine. My milk came in. My baby latched properly. No lack of supply. Emotionally though I was miserable. I know now that I was suffering from post-partum depression, but at the time my desire to prove myself made me refuse to admit anything was wrong. I hated nursing. Instead of warm fuzzy feelings of attachment I was filled with resentment. I saw my baby as a pitiless, life-sucking parasite, feeding off of my freedom. I felt nauseated. My head was filled with the reek of sour milk 24/7. I felt trapped. I felt alone in the world with an 8 pound leech tying me down to the earth and smothering me with it's selfish neediness. Now add to that the guilt of knowing what a heartless bitch I was because what the hell is wrong with someone who hates feeding their baby? And you get a lot of weepy feeding sessions. I was a failure.

Then one day I fed her a bottle. More tears, but these were happy tears. It was a revelation moment for me. Oh my God, I'm feeding my baby! and she's smiling! and she's beautiful and perfect and not a parasitic leech at all! Oh holy Hell why didn't I do this sooner? Have I damaged her forever with all the negativity I've been sending her? Have I missed our chance to bond? There's no way the benefits of breastmilk can have outweighed the horror. I'm not saying everything was magically better from that moment on, but it was my starting point. It was a light at the end of the tunnel and a glimmer of hope that maybe I could do this and things would get better someday.

When I got pregnant with Eden (Mooch) I was under no illusions about breastfeeding. I was willing to try again, but at the first sign of the crazies she was going on formula and that was the end of it. So no one was more surprised than I was when breastfeeding worked. There was milk, there was latching, there was a much nicer breast-pump. There was closeness and bonding and Oh my God THIS is what it's supposed to be like!? (insert some more guilt about missing this with Skylar and long-term emotional damage etc. but mostly all around awesome). I nursed Eden for 13 months. I would have gone on longer, but some surgery and medications for me co-incided with a lack of interest on her part and we both knew that we were done and the experience was over. Yesterday I cleaned out the freezer and found one lone little container of frozen breastmilk. I couldn't bring myself to throw it out. I thought that this was probably my last chance to nourish my child with my own milk and I warmed it up for her. Eden snuggled with me and sucked her bottle and the sweet smell of the milk brought back all of these memories, good and bad, of feeding my babies.

So basically all of this goes back to my personal opinion that no one should judge anyone else for the way they choose to feed their baby. Breast or formula, every woman should do what works for her and her baby and not feel guilty. Babies thrive on love more than milk.


Sera said...

Hey! I wanted to stop over and tell you that I really, really appreciated what you had to say on my blog in response to the salute to the boobs post. Then I come over here and read THIS post, and I'm just like - this chick is awesome! I honestly cannot believe the level of judgment people have if you do not breastfeed. You hit the nail on the head when you said babies thrive on love, not milk - or something like that - can't remember your exact words. Anyway, I think you said what you said very eloquently and very truthfully and honestly, and I applaud you for that. Every single comment people made in response to my post had something to do with a struggle nursing, and I think that speaks volumes. WHY do we not get that information when we're pregnant or in our early postpartum days? WHY aren't there more people who are willing to say that breast isn't always best, especially if it's making mama NUTS! Hello! So anyway, enough jabbering from me. Thanks again so much for saying what you did - in your comment on my blog, and here on your blog, too. Now I'm off to see if you have one of those follower things so I can follow your blog. Oh, and that picture of your kiddos is super cute. :)

Anonymous said...

The day I brought my son home from the hospital my husband got a phone call from one of his co-workers. (His wife is obsessed with breastfeeding and had pressured me about doing it the entire time I was pregnant.) The co-worker said "[His wife] saw on Ashley's blog that she's planning to breast and formula feed, and we just thought you should know there's been a huge outbreak of babies dying from formula. You should be careful." Ummm. What? I started freaking out because from the minute he'd been born we'd been formula feeding (no milk yet, and no latching on his part) and I was a hysterical mess. My husband got online to sort out the mess, and come to find out the co-worker and his wife had lied to us. The babies that died (it was very few) had died in China--not the US. And it wasn't every kind of formula, it was a select few. They were so crazy about breast-feeding that they lied to me. I couldn't believe it. Some people really should mind their own damn business when it comes to what a mother is going to do for her child. Just my rant! :)

EdenSky said...

Wow, Ashley, that's awful! It's sad to think people would knowingly add so much extra stress to a new mother's life just to push their beliefs.