Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My ramblings on breastfeeding.

A few weeks ago, at my MOMs Club meeting, one of the new second time moms was talking about breastfeeding.  She was agitated, flustered, exhausted - everything I would expect from a mom of a newborn.  But this was more than that.  When she talked about breastfeeding, she said "I have to do it for a year.  Because that's what I did with my oldest.  It wouldn't be fair to her if I don't.  I have to."

That makes me so sad.

Sometimes, when I read about breastfeeding - even and especially from breastfeeding advocates - it feels like they're talking about an obligation.  You owe it to your baby.  You owe it to the national health debate.  It's the right thing to do, and you should should should.


I breastfed.  For 19 months.  And I intend to again with #2.  Truthfully, I will be very sad and disappointed if something prevents me from doing it.

But not because it's the "right" thing to do.  Not because I have to or because I owe it to anyone else.  Because I really, really want to.

So, here's my breastfeeding manifesto.  Consider this my letter of advice to my best friend (ahem, are you reading, ET? ;)):

In my heart, I want you to breastfeed.  I want you to try.

Because I don't want you to have to pay for formula.  It's exorbitant, and I know there are things you'd rather do with that money - time and experiences and security you would rather buy.

Because I want your baby to have all possible health benefits.  It really is the best source of nutrition and improves immunity.  Formula is fine, really, but there's nothing that can compare to liquid gold.

Because in truth once you get the hang of it, it's so EASY.  Because you don't have to carry formula.  You don't have to warm bottles at 2 AM.  You have an almost foolproof tantrum stopper.

And mostly because there is no other experience in the world like it, in terms of bonding and connection.  I know you can bond with your baby without doing it.  I have no doubt that you can raise a happy, brilliant, securely attached child on formula.  I've seen it, many times.  But for me, breastfeeding was such a moment of joy and peace.  I want you to have that.  For your baby, yes, but for you mostly.

But here's the thing.

I don't want you to ever feel bullied.  By anyone on either side.  Bullied into supplementing when you don't want to, bullied into breastfeeding when you don't want to.

I don't want you to feel guilty, or think there's something wrong with you, if for some reason you can't.  If it's really hard.  If it doesn't work out the way I'm describing, or the way other people tell you it "should."

I don't want you to feel like you HAVE TO love it.  Like there's something wrong with you if it doesn't make you happy.

And if, for any reason, you start to resent it, to hate it, to feel like you're only doing it because you owe it to someone, that you're doing it for any reason other than you're own, like it is doing more harm than good to you or your relationships, then I want you to consider stopping.  I'm not telling you what to do.  You have to make that choice yourself.  But I want you to know that it's okay.

Because what you and your family deserve most is love and happiness.

And I will fight until I'm bloody to protect your right to that, whatever choices that means you have to make.

Friday, August 10, 2012

On blogging and belonging

When I first discovered blogs and blogging I was all alone.  I didn't know a lot of moms in real life, and I was sure I didn't know anyone who felt like I did.  And then suddenly I did.

I read these blogs - mid level blogs, I guess you'd call them, not tiny like me but I never once read Dooce or the Blogesss - and I fell in love.  I wanted to read all their words, leave them meaningful comments, join their lively conversations on twitter.

I wanted to be their friends.

The Internet is a strange place.  It makes you think you know people when you really don't.

Some of them were extremely sweet and patiently answered my emails and tweets.  But not all of them.  And even the ones who did, I quickly realized, were being polite and didn't really care that much what I had to say.

I was crushed.  I was humiliated. I was angry.  I was heart broken that they didn't like me as much as I liked them.  I thought for sure it was because I wasn't good enough, wasn't big enough, was a crazy annoying stalker, didn't deserve their friendship.

But I see now that isn't what it was at all.

You never really know what's going on with someone.  You don't know how busy or overwhelmed she is, how much pain she is, what her limitations are when it comes to socializing and communicating.

And people flock to who and what they know, especially when they're struggling.  You can't fault a person for talking to her best friend instead of to a stranger.

And over time I built up my own community on twitter.  People who I consider some of my best friends in the world.  And I still follow and read and admire some of those bigger bloggers.  But they aren't the first place I look anymore.

But I worry.  I still remember that feeling, of just wanting a place to belong.  I see people who think I'm "big,"  who leave me comments and tweets because there's something they're looking for too.  And I wonder how it is that I come across, whether I make anyone feel more alone than when they started.

I dont' want to let everyone down.  I want to spread kindness to everyone.  And I'm trying, even when I'm struggling, even when I'm overwhelmed.

But the Internet, it really is a tricky thing, isn't it?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Right now

Right now I am writing this with a 28 pound toddler snuggled against my chest and sleeping.

She fell asleep in the car on the way home from the grocery store, and when she woke up in her crib an hour later, she wasn't happy about it.  She stood up and screamed "MoMMEEEEEEE" at the top of her lungs until I came.

I had things to do.  Paperwork to take care of.  Laundry to wash.  Writing to do.  I wanted to have a cup of tea in quiet.

But I went.

I walked into her room and her face lit up.  "Hii Mommyy!!"

I picked her up.  She nestled her head into my shoulder.  Five minutes late we were on the couch and she was asleep.

And that's okay.

It doesn't seem like that long ago that I would have been breaking dishes over this.  I would have been inconsolable that my plans were ruined.  I would have been frustrated and angry and disappointed, and no one could gave convinced me that it was okay.

She won't be standing in a crib waiting for me much longer.  I don't know when she'll stop wanting to curl up on my chest to sleep.  I don't know how much longer her hair will smell like baby shampoo.

And it won't be just me and her for much longer.

So today I can sit here.  I can wrap her in my arms and kiss her head and she can sleep here as long as she wants.

And today, I know I'm okay.  At least for now.  I know I won't be again.  I know I'll get angry, anxious, devastated even.  I know there's at least as much hard ahead of me as behind me.

But I know I can make it through and I know why.

And I can even type about it with one hand.