Saturday, October 26, 2013

Come together, Ladies

I had a thought tonight and felt the need to write it out here while it was on my mind.  Because... I think it's an important point.

As much as women want to criticize the media, men, and the fashion industry for pressuring us to reach unattainable goals and achieve their vision of perfection... WE are our own worst critics.  We criticize each other.  We put down and demonize those who make different lifestyle choices than our own. We do it to ourselves.  If we can't respect our differences, how can we expect the rest of the world to?

Now, I'm not saying ALL women are like this.  Or that those who judge others are horrible people.  Because, lets face it, it's what we've grown up seeing generations of other women doing it and even the most kindhearted, open minded female has her catty moments.

How did I come to think of this tonight? Well I was looking at my son play. My 27lb, 29 inch, not yet 10 month old son. And I remembered all of the exclusive breastfeeding advocates' words to me when I decided to supplement formula while breastfeeding.

At the time, my son was 5lbs 3oz. No, he was not born a big baby.  He was dressed in preemie clothing for the first couple of months of his life. I had planned on breastfeeding exclusively.  To the point where I hadn't even bought many bottles. That all changed when I was told by the hospital pediatrician that my son had lost 10oz and was at risk of going below 5lbs. 

It had been almost 5 days... and I had just learned my milk still had not come in.  My son had not been eating.  He was literally starving.  I was upset. Not that I couldn't breastfeed, but that I hadn't been made aware of his weight loss or my lack of milk until then.  I wouldn't have let him be hungry if I had known.   I knew I had to give him formula. And I had no problem with it. For the next few months, I breastfed and bottle fed formula.  We had no problems switching back and forth.  Eventually we discovered my son also had allergies, and the restrictive diet I had been on in order to be able to breastfeed took a toll on my own health, so I stopped and started feeding him formula exclusively.

Those who were adamant about EVERYONE exclusively breastfeeding were less than pleased with my decisions. And they let me know it.  "It's supply and demand.  If you hadn't supplemented you would've caught up."  But as I look at my son I wonder... would I have caught up?  And at what cost?

My son is now about 5 times his birth weight.  Most babies are a little more than double their birth weight by a year old.  Fact is, my son wouldn't have thrived if I hadn't introduced him to formula.  And I doubt I would've ever been able to keep up with his demands.

To give an idea of how quickly he grew - he only wore 3 month sized clothing for a week and a half before he had to go to 6 month. He wore 6 month clothing for a less than a month before going to 9 month and so on.  At 3 months his GI specialist determined liquids could no longer satiate him and we would have to start giving him rice cereal.  The more I learned about his demands and how rapidly he was growing, the more confident I became that I had made the right decision that day in the hospital.

When I explained this to my critics the common reply was "Babies have been breastfeeding since the dawn of time. BEFORE formula was even around.  What do you think happened to babies then, huh?"  What do I think happened to babies then? They died. Or their growth was stunted. People seem to forget that BECAUSE OF modern medicine having a baby is no where near as dangerous as it was "at the dawn of time."  And the infant fatality rate is much lower as well.

Now I have no problem with those who exclusively breastfeed or with those who exclusively bottle feed for that matter.  I do have a problem with those who don't respect that there is a choice.  And just because someone makes a different choice than you've made, doesn't mean they're wrong. And it doesn't mean they need to justify their choice to you.

When I look at my big boy and think of how those women gave me such a hard time while I was probably the most vulnerable I've been in my adult life, it makes me sad.  As women, we should support each other during these times.  Not make them more difficult.  Not make a woman have to justify her choices when she's trying to adjust to a completely new phase of her life. 

So before you make that snarky comment or point out that your choice is a better one... remember this... women fought for us to have the right to choose.  Back then, they were fighting men, the government, what probably felt like the world.  And now we're going to be our own worst enemy? After all of that, we're going to tear each other down? Lets not undermine the struggle those women went through by condemning each other. 

Of course if a woman is leaving her 4 year old home alone to fend for himself, then yes we question that.  But on things like hospital or home birth, breastfeeding or bottle feeding... we need to be a bit kinder to each other.  And a bit more supportive.  Remember how you felt when you had your first child... and be kind.  Yes, it is a very joyous time, but also a very difficult time.   And for those who have yet to have children... remember this is something you haven't yet experienced... and you may feel differently about many things once you do.  It's easy to judge if you've never been through it, but no one can tell you how becoming a mother feels. It's something that can't be accurately described in words. Experiencing it is the only way to fully understand.

So ladies, come together. Support each other.  Be a positive energy instead of a negative one.  Be informative without being critical.  We can set an example for our daughters and show them, contrary to popular belief, women can get along. Even those who have their differences.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Candice,
    I'm just doing some research on breast and bottle feeding as I have a similar issue right now that you had some years ago.
    My other mother friends are all just breast feeding. I'm breast feeding myself too but I really play with the thought of also bottle feeding my baby. I encouraged my when I read in your article that for you it was no problem to breast or bottle feed or better said it was no problem for your baby. One friend is bottle feeding too and she uses organic formla from and I think of trying it out too. I really like breast feeding but some days it just stresses me out and exhausts me a lot. Your article is very inspiring and it helps me to think about my life and not how others would live it.
    There are always going to be critics everywhere ;)
    Have a great day