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.