“Are you breastfeeding?” asked one of my friends who was over visiting me and my new baby. “No, not anymore”, I answered quietly. The judgemental stare on her face said it all, she didn’t have to say anything. “I tried though, it’s really hard”, I added. “I breastfed Sophia for the first year of her life” my friend said smugly. The feeling of guilt swept over me. Why does it matter how you feed your baby? Or whether you had a c-section or an epidural, or countless other decisions we make as parents. And why do we feel so much guilt? Why are other moms so judgey?
I have to admit, I was one of those people. As a labor and delivery nurse, I thought I knew it all, knew what was best for moms and their babies. A mom would whip out the bottle to feed her kid and I would secretly think “I wonder why she’s not breastfeeding?”. Oh how becoming a mother changed all of that. See when I became pregnant, I had this beautiful plan all laid out of how my birth would go and what kind of parent I would be. Boy was I naive. The reality is nothing went as I thought it would. I ended up getting induced at 37 weeks and 2 days for preeclampsia, had every intervention under the sun to try and get me into labor, got an epidural and then was a crash c-section because Maxwell’s heart rate dropped after my epidural. After two weeks of breastfeeding, pumping and supplementing to try and help Maxwell regain his birth weight, I was utterly exhausted, anxious and becoming distant towards my baby. Breastfeeding was becoming unhealthy for me mentally. After two weeks I made the painful decision to “take the easy way out” and formula feed. Maxwell started gaining weight, was satisfied after feedings and I was able to enjoy being with my baby again.
Why are we as a society creating unrealistic expectations with sayings like “breast is best” that can lead moms to feel like failures? As if the postpartum period with all of the changing hormones and new way of life isn’t hard enough lets hold moms to this standard of being this “ideal, perfect” mother on top of everything else that she is going through. And what makes other moms think that they know what’s best and give them the right to throw shade at other moms for the decisions they make? It’s hard being a mom in today’s culture. We are criticized for every decision we make.
Had a c-section? She took the easy way out.
Had a natural medication free vaginal delivery? Who does she think she is a martyr or something?
Going back to work and sending your kids to daycare? Selfish
Stay at home mom? Slacker
Homeschool your kids? Wierdo.
Oh your kids go to public school? They’re average.
Dress nice and look put together? She puts her own needs before her kids.
Wearing yoga pants and a baseball hat? Slob
Who the hell cares?
The reality is, there is no right or wrong way to parent your kids. We’re all just winging this parenthood thing. You try it all and then see what sticks. You know what’s best for you and your baby. Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, had a vaginal delivery or c-section, are a working mom or stay at home mom, the list goes on and on. It truly doesn’t matter. Cut yourself some slack. These babies grow so fast, don’t let comparison trip you up and steal you from relishing in the joys of motherhood.
The bottom line is my kid’s no different than yours.
this epiduralized, c-section, formula feeding, co-sleeping mama