I'm not quite sure how I ended up with a formula feeding = failure stance though I suppose it was good for something.
I owe my rapid 80lb post partum weight loss after my first kid to it. It also made me tired and reallllly sick of cranberries.
After each respective kid, I realized that after a few months, hopefully six if I could make it, the whole formula versus breastfeeding debacle didn't really matter that much. My kids would sooner be reporting about how much I cried or yelled at therapy than what I fed them in a bottle.
And the sleep, the ability to escape from my house without a baby for longer than a few hours, might actually make me a better mom.
Yes, I breastfed them exclusively for six months (and then continued through over a year), but not without a heavy price.
Sure, my kids will "supposedly" be smarter, healthier, thinner. But where is the research that says it's better for moms to nearly kill themselves to breastfeed their kids exclusively for a certain period of time than it is for their kids to get formula?
I stopped exclusively breastfeeding Bridget at around four or five months, at which point she got baby food, and then formula on occasion when I traveled.
And then right before I weaned, she was getting more formula bottles than breastmilk.
I loved being able to leave the house and not have to worry about saving milk. I really loved being able to roll over when she cried in the middle of the night and let my husband get up and give her a bottle.
And I wondered why the heck I hadn't done this sooner.
I know, I know. I'm not supposed to say this because we moms are supposed to suffer it out. I mean, that's what life is like with a baby -- sleepless nights, inconvenience, a change in lifestyle. And so what if our babies might not be gaining weight or our nipples hurt like shit or we haven't slept in days because the baby is attached to our boob all night long?
If we somehow say that breastfeeding is not easy or inconvenient, then we're not breastfeeding advocates and we'll turn mothers to the "dark side."
But I like to think that women aren't that stupid or impressionable. And if perhaps, we take the pressure off and make expectations a little more realistic that moms it might be better than this "all or nothing" attitude that a lot of uber boobers have.
I want all women to try to breastfeed. I wish they could do it exclusively for three months or six months. And then continue on past a year.
It bums me out when moms won't even given it a try.
But let's stop bashing women who can't. Let's celebrate that they breastfed for three months or six months, whether they did it exclusively or supplemented with formula.
And then let's figure out a way to help them if they need it. And give them support if they decide not to.
Just because you're willing to give up your independence, your sleep, your breasts for however long, doesn't mean you somehow love your kids more.
What I did to breastfeed my oldest daughter was stupid. I used to be proud of it, like I was somehow a hero for eating four foods every day for months at a time.
But now I wish I knew that there was no such thing as failure. And that there were two people to factor into my choices: My baby. And me.