Dear Fellow Mommy Friends,
I’m so glad I’ve met such amazing women in my first year as a mother. But considering nearly all of you are breastfeeding mommas, and I normally blog about formula feeding, I figured it was about time to give credit where credit is due.
In the beginning, it was rough… you would all hang out at Breastfeeding Support Group, grabbing coffee afterwards, forging bonds over latching issues. The only person I could bond with was the supermarket check-out lady who rang up my $30 can of formula (“Dang, that’s expensive…they don’t make a generic for that?” she’d ask nearly every time, as I’d shake my head morosely.)
Later, we’d all meet at the park. Our newborns would wail; you’d pull out your boobs, I’d pull out my bottle. I’d feel ashamed, wondering if you were judging me for not trying hard enough. And sometimes I suspected you thought I’d be uncomfortable with you nursing, which just made the situation more awkward. This couldn’t have been further from the truth, by the way. I thought it was amazing, what you were doing. My own nursing experience was so god-awful, that it was reassuring – heck, life-affirming – to see your little ones getting good, natural nourishment from your bodies.
But luckily, we worked through any insecurities we felt. Some of you stopped using the nursing covers; others still preferred to remain draped in public. Either way was cool with me. I admired those of you with the cajones to feed your child as nature intended, despite the conspicuous stares from some immature guys (like my husband, who just can’t stop seeing breasts as sexual objects… I apologize for him. His idol is Larry David; what can you do?). I also related to those of you with your designer Hooter-Hiders; I probably would have been using one too, if I had still been nursing. I’m shy like that. On my end, I stopped feeling like a bad mom every time I pulled out my container of powdered food; I welcomed the chance to educate anyone who questioned my choice. None of you ever did. Because you rock. Whatever opinions of my feeding choices you had, you kept them to yourself, and I love you for it.
One of you couldn’t understand why I wasn’t planning on nursing my second child, should I ever have one. “Why wouldn’t you at least try?” you asked me, on more than one occasion. But you weren’t being judgmental. You were genuinely curious. Once I explained my reasons to you, you accepted it, and moved on. I think you wanted reassurance that I wasn’t belittling your hard work; I hope I imparted the message that I think nursing is great, just not for my family. I hope that you know I envy the success you have had in breastfeeding, that I think it is a wonderful gift you’ve given your son.
Another one of you is a shining example of what breastfeeding advocacy can and should be. You persevered through numerous nursing challenges, because breastfeeding meant something to you. You are a true earth mother, and I’ve never seen anything more natural looking than you feeding your child. It’s amazing. In those moments, you look like a modern-day Joan of Arc, strong and ready to take on the status quo; just as your son benefits from your milk, you seem to get something out of him as well – a quiet strength; a sense of wholeness. Magical. Even more magical? How you managed to nurse your 25 pound toddler in your Ergo carrier on our hike the other day. Wow. That was impressive.
And then there are those of you who’ve been brave enough to admit to me that nursing hasn’t been all that wonderful. I appreciate your honesty; it helped me understand the breastfeeding issue on a larger level, made me question why we feel “forced” into doing this. I also respect that you stuck with it, and celebrated with you when it got easier.
As our kiddos approach the one year mark, I see many of you starting the weaning process, and I want to congratulate you on a job well done. You have nourished your children, and they are thriving. And you’ve never made me feel inferior for using a different system of nourishment, which has allowed my child to thrive as well. I think we are proof that both formula feeders and breastfeeders can raise healthy, happy children, and come from happy, healthy, non-judgmental moms.
So, thanks, guys. I raise my sippy cup to you. Wanna know what’s in it? It’s the milk of human kindness. Doesn’t matter if its from the breast or the formula can. You all have it in spades, and I love you for it.
– The Fearless Formula Feeder