Today I want to tell you a story. This is a story of an incredible mother. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready to meet this amazing woman.
In 1985, at the young age of 22, a beautiful mother gave birth to her first son. Despite the pressures of culture to bottle and formula feed, this mom (being the earthy crunchy type which wasn’t “popular” at the time) decided to feed her baby by breast. You can just imagine the looks she got when people heard this. But nonetheless, she wasn’t doing it to please anyone else. She was doing it to nourish her son. Fast forward a few weeks… It didn’t hurt that this young couple was living on love and little money to breastfeed. It did, however, hurt every time that she put her son to the breast. Badly. You see, her son was tongue tied and had a terrible time working on latch. I wasn’t there, but since Micah had the same issue, I can tell you that breastfeeding through it must have been awful. So she went to the doctor who (of course) didn’t associate the tongue tie with the mechanics of latch and told her that she, “wasn’t cut out for breastfeeding”.
She lasted as long as she could endure and then switched to formula. Can I tell you something? Her son is grown up now, just got his MBA from Rice University, is one of the most intelligent (and healthy) men that I know. He is blessed with a beautiful wife and a child of his own.
About two years later, this mother gave birth to her second child and first daughter. Remembering how difficult it was to breastfeed, the words of her previous pediatrician, and the stress that came with feeding issues, she decided to formula feed. She still bonded with her baby right from the get go. She loved that baby with a fierce mother’s love. Now, that daughter is grown, is equally as healthy and blessed, and has a baby of her own as well.
I can speak to the perspective of that daughter because I am that daughter. This is the story of my mother. I have an amazing bond with my mom and I was never breastfed. I am not at all ungrateful that my mom decided to let go of the stress and let me have formula. Instead of dreading every feeding she got to enjoy them. (Well, I am sure she didn’t always enjoy me waking up at 4am, but that is beside the point). My mom’s decision to formula feed was a good thing for her.
I will give you all a moment. Yes, that is what I said. It was a good thing.
If you have read my other posts, you will know that I am on the front lines of the breastfeeding geeks. I love breastfeeding with just about every ounce of my being. I strongly believe that women should have the opportunity to educate themselves with the amazing benefits of breastfeeding prenatally and make an informed decision. I also believe that every woman should have easy access to sound and reputable breastfeeding support throughout their experience with breastfeeding. I agree with the evidence that says breastfeeding is far superior to formula. Etc. Etc. Etc. I won’t go into all of that now… you can check out other posts for that. And there you will see more of my heart. But what I will say now is what I have recently become just about as equally passionate about.
Being a mom is hard. Today, we live in a much different culture than when my mom started out having kids. These days, moms tend to feel the guilt when they either choose to or their hand is forced into formula feeding (the opposite of what my mom felt for being “earthy crunchy”). And this is just as bad as that doctor who told my mom she wasn’t cut out for breastfeeding. Making decisions that you feel are going to impact your child for their entire life is beyond difficult. But being guilted for the decisions you made (or were forced to make) is simply not okay.
And so, this is why I am a Certified Lactation Counselor with the goal of becoming an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Counselor within the next few years. It isn’t to guilt a mom into breastfeeding. It isn’t to guilt the mom who has struggled for weeks or months with breastfeeding who decides to let it go and bond with their baby. I do what I do because being a mom is hard. I want to be there for the moms like my mom. I so wish I could have been there to assess her latch, to talk to her about tongue tie, to refer her to an ENT specialist and to encourage her through the decisions she had to make. I want to tell moms like mine that they are doing an amazing job. I want to be the advocate for breastfeeding moms that need someone to fight for them. But I also want to tell them that sometimes, breastfeeding isn’t fair. That waking up at all hours of the night is hard. I could write a whole other post on that topic! I want to tell them “thank you” for doing the amazing job of raising children.
To the amazing moms that I know and the ones that maybe just stumbled across this blog post, I would be happy to connect you with reputable help if you are struggling with breastfeeding. And just a word of encouragement… it usually gets better with appropriate care and attention! But hear this, my hope is that whatever you do in feeding your child that you throw off all feelings of guilt. I hope you hear that guilt isn’t worth it. And most importantly, you are a good mom.
I will end with this photo that was taken of my son and I while we were in the thick of our breastfeeding struggles. I think it so beautifully depicts the love, curiosity, anxiety and wonder that goes into motherhood.