Thursday, March 25, 2010
Last Tuesday, I was chatting with another preschool mommy during story hour. We were talking about our sons' teacher who is expecting a baby girl in less than a month. She was trying to decide from which store she should buy a gift card. Both being moms of three, we laughed about how, really, as long as you could buy diapers there, any store would do! Still chuckling, she went on...
"I remember after my first was born, my in-laws would show up once a week with a bag of diapers and my parents would bring me a can of formula, which was just so perf..."
I was just listening to her finish out her thought about how great that was (and I sure bet it was!) when she interrupted herself to back-track and say...
"I mean, I tried nursing. It was just really hard for me and it wasn't going well and, well, I ended up using formula because she just wasn't gaining weight and I was feeling desperate and..."
She looked at me, a touch of panic in her eyes, as if wondering what I was going to say to this.
"Wow, that sounds like a real blessing and just what you needed!"
It makes me sad.
Not that she didn't nurse her baby. Not that she had trouble with it. Not even that apparently no one was really able to help her work it out.
It makes me sad that she felt the need to defend herself so much. I hadn't judged her even before her big rundown about what went wrong. Had she never attempted nursing, I wouldn't have deemed her a bad mommy.
I am happy to be breastfeeding my daughter. I have always felt adamant about the rights of mothers to nurse their babies wherever it needs to be done. There are enough studies and reports out there to tell you that there are lots of benefits to breastfeeding- you don't need my two cents added in.
But there are wonderful formula-feeding mommies out there. Just like there are lousy moms who breastfeed. That one decision does not tell the whole story. If you nurse, that doesn't automatically make you a good mom. If you formula-feed, that doesn't make you a bad mom.
It's just not right. It's not right that there are excellent mommies out there who feel the need to tear open raw wounds and share their difficult stories with everyone in the hopes that, maybe, just maybe, they won't be judged too harshly then. Why must we insist upon "a darn good excuse" in order for this to be permissible? Mommies, as a breed, need to be more compassionate and supportive of each other... I expect formula-feeding mothers to put up with me breastfeeding my baby (discreetly) in public if the need arises. They should be able to expect me to be kind.
Let's save our energy for when it really matters. Let's save it for when children are in jeopardy or being raised in loveless homes. Maybe then we can all- all of us just doing our best to raise our babies- come together and make a difference.