I have written about a lot of topics. I have turned my heart and head inside out and bared many of my deepest thoughts and stories and memories. And yet, there is one topic I have not written about. There is one topic I thought was my business and not yours. There is one topic that I thought would attract rude and mean and destructive attacks.
This one topic that I have not written about is often written about in fervent and heavy handed tones. Anyone who dares to offer up alternatives is pushed down and threatened and despised.
What topic am I talking about?
Breast Feeding v. Formula Feeding
It's a hot button issue among moms. It has been for many years.
I've left it alone. I haven't said a word.
But then, I saw an article on The Stir, a part of CafeMom.com entitled, 15 Good Reasons for Formula Feeding Every Mom Can Agree On and it stirred something inside of me alright….anger!
The title alone made me cringe….as if there are only certain good reasons that we can agree are acceptable reasons for formula feeding.
Let me start out by saying this…. I formula fed my two strong and healthy boys. I NEVER attempted to breastfeed them; not ever. I knew before I ever got pregnant that it was not something I was going to do. And, this may shock you, I did not have any of these "15 good reasons" which to base my decision on.
I was confident and comfortable with this decision. I stood firm when telling my doctors…they supported me, but warned me the hospital nurses might not. I stood firm when spelling this out in my birth plans and then confirming this information once my babes were birthed…no one argued with me. I stood firm when all the other moms in my mom groups and circle of friends talked about their breastfeeding issues and even when a few pointed remarks regarding formula feeding were hurled at me by one particular friend.
I have NEVER regretted this decision. First of all, it was personal. And honestly, there is no need for me to explain the why, but since I am baring all once again, I will briefly explain my reason why.
I contemplated whether motherhood was for me at all. Will and I were married 7.5 years before having kids. I was almost 32 when my first child was born. There were several points that we waivered back and forth about it for quite some time. Then, when we finally decided that yes, we wanted to have children, I also knew for certain I would never breastfeed.
I knew that it was simply not something I am personally comfortable with. I knew that I would be a better mom for making this decision and sticking with it. And I still feel certain about this.
Our experience as brand new parents was relatively easy. Will and I took it in stride, for the most part. We shared responsibilities of changing and feeding and getting up and sleeping. It worked well for our family. We had our system for making formula and washing bottles and keeping our babies fed.
Darling 1, our feisty, strong, smart, first-born rolled over at 1 week, started speaking at 5 months and walked at 10.5 months. Darling 2 our stubborn, strong, charming second baby followed closely behind his brother's stats rolling over at 1 week and pulling himself up at 6 months, etc., etc. They are healthy, strong and smart and always have been.
I have No regrets and wouldn't change my decision if given the chance. It was right for us.
It is my firm stance that each mom must determine what is best for her and her baby and her family, whether to breastfeed, formula feed or some combination of both. Period. It is not anyone else's decision.
15 Good Reasons to "Fail"?
Now, back to this article….at first glance it appears that the author is actually giving some validity to my point…each mom has the right to choose what is best for her, but then it becomes quite apparent that this article is just like all the rest. This article, like all the others, takes a jab at those women who decided that breast was not best for their children.
Before I even got to the "15 good reasons" the author's statement regarding her own experience made me cringe and tingle with irritation. She states, and I quote, "And I'll admit my failure as a breastfeeding mom changed me. It made me more open. It made me more understanding."
Her FAILURE. As if by not being able to breastfeed her child made her a bad mom; a failed mom. And that by falling into this category she was able to see why other mom's might fail in this attempt or have to find an escape route that was deemed "a good reason" to feed their babies formula.
I read those "15 good reasons" and every one either had a health issue and mentioned that their doctors had warned against breastfeeding or started out breastfeeding, but then decided to pump or couldn't keep it up due to twins or demanding work situations, etc. or had adopted her babies.
Not one of the moms with the "good reasons" said because I chose to do it….because I knew it was the best decision for me and my child…. Each of the moms given a "free pass" to formula feed based on her "good reason" provided detail reasoning, as if she had to explain herself and be justified by the high court of other moms.
A Mother's Right to Choose
A mom should not have to explain herself to anyone when making a decision about what is best for her child and her, as long as the child is not being put in danger….and formula feeding is not.
Those on the verge of becoming parents must make many decisions from the moment those little lines appear on the stick. Most of us, don't take those decisions lightly.
And I certainly didn't take parenthood lightly. I read and studied and ate well and made informed choices. Our choices were based on research and personal experience. It's hard enough becoming a parent for the first time. It's an emotional time. It's a beautiful, exhausted, fish-out-of-water, everything-is-new experience.
We must trust moms to choose what is best for herself and her child. We must not push our standards and our choices and our reasoning onto other new moms.
The author actually stated that none of the 15 moms said it was because she was lazy or because she wanted to poison her child. Seriously…of course not. But again, this statement is stigmatizing those who do choose to formula feed…belittling formula feeding moms without "good reasons" for choosing this option.
Our track records as parents are not based on anyone else's decisions and experiences. We must make our own way.
Some make the choice to breastfeed and others choose formula and bottles; some decide to make their own baby food and others buy jars and packages; some co-sleep and others strictly forbid it; some use disposable diapers and others use cloth; some use pacifiers and others like thumbs or nothing at all; some let their babies cry it out and others respond right away; some insist on top of the line everything and others use hand-me-downs…and the list goes on and on. These choices don't make one person a more superior parent and another a lesser parent.
I don't have regret about my decision. I was not swayed by other moms. I was confident and definite. But not all moms who decide for whatever reason that they will feed their babies with formula are as strong and resolute and confident in her decisions.
Do not bully that mom with your ideals and your reasonings and your arguments and your judgments whatever they are rooted in; instead, support that mom in her choices. As we all know, a new mom always needs a supportive and loving friend. Over and out…