As a mother I am always comparing myself to other mothers. I often wish that I could resist comparing but the truth (at least for me) is you admire people who possess qualities that you lack. Qualities that are difficult for you to acquire and areas that you might consider yourself a “failure”. Here I want to challenge that idea.
I personally don't feel that I have a decorative eye. I find it so difficult to put a room or outfit together. I am constantly thinking about these areas that I fail in and the idea always creeps in that “If I could only do this ‘one thing’ I would be a better mom”. The idea that if I could only have the style that my friend does everyone would be so impressed and I would have my stuff together. When I see a mom who’s house looks like it came from a magazine and who’s style is always on point (I'm talking about you bestie-love you!) and I feel like I will never ever being as good as them, and that they have their stuff together why can't I?
The reality is that same mom looks at me and thinks things like “wow I can't believe that she home schools her kids I wish that I could think of lesson plans that were like that or that I had the time and materials to be able to homeschool my kids.” She might have a similar idea like “If I could only do this ‘one thing’ I would be a better mom”. I’m telling you right now she is an incredible mom, homeschool or not, and so are you!
The reality of the situation and of every situation like this is that we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses and the most important thing is to value your strength and recognize your weaknesses. I value that I have strength in homeschooling, I use that to my advantage I make money on the side by tutoring, I like to reach out and help my friends and family who are struggling in education, and I know that it's something that my children will value for years to come. I recognize my weakness in the areas of style so I when have days that I am doubting myself I recognize this and I have the awesome opportunity to reach out to my bestie and I say “I would really appreciate it if you looked at this thing I’m doing because you are really awesome with style stuff and I could use some pointers.” I shamelessly put myself out in the open, so called faults and all, and I ask for help.
Alone as moms we are only good in a few different areas but if we band together and work together then we are the ultimate mom. Motherhood is a community it’s a group effort and we all need to look up to each other and stand side by side and solidarity. So I urge you to find whatever area that you're strong is and share that with the people around you! Whatever area your weak in reach out ask for help! Don’t be afraid to say, “I'm not perfect and it’s okay because with you I can be strong”.
So who is your tribe? Don’t have one yet? Reach out! Talk to that stranger mom at the park. Check out your local libraries children’s programs, look for local MOMS or MOPS groups. Surround yourself in a community of motherhood.
Know your strong and share it with the world. You are the most awesome you here!
I am an advocate of breastfeeding. I truly think every mother should try it. I know that it won't work for everyone and that's okay because science has come so far and formula is a great substitute if it is done right but that's another story for another day. Still when I see a baby being given a bottle it makes me hurt in my soul, it's an Indescribable feeling that I am constantly trying to ignore and stuff out of my body. I wish I didn't have this feeling, as a doula, I want to make sure that all moms and babies are happy and content with however they choose to feed their baby.
And the truth is that I know why I get this awful feeling and it has nothing to do with bottles. The truth is that time and time again mommas and babies don't have a fighting chance when it comes to breastfeeding successfully from the start for so many reasons. I think that if women understand what they're up against from the beginning then maybe they would have the fighting chance that they deserve to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. So ladies here is some of what we are up against when it comes to breastfeeding:
1. Our Culture
The American culture uses breast as a highly sexualized body part. From a young age girls are told to buy Wonder bras, that boys only want one thing, and of course if you've got it flaunt it. These ideas are ingrained into our young brains so that we think if we show our breasts we are asking for sex and if we cover them then we are being "Good Girls". So obviously when it's time to bare all and breastfeed our baby we are ashamed. That is why we spend $30 or so on nursing covers, and how easy is it to latch a newborn with a nursing cover? Oh that's right it's not, but Society tells me I need to cover I need to be a "good girl" so here we are-I'm off to a bad start already.
I remember a friend asking me to go into the other room to nurse while her husband was there (in my home) because she was worried he would look at my breasts. I was ashamed and embarrassed the idea that feeding my baby might cause infidelity what?! Only in America my friends only in America. How many other women are made to feel this way and how many have their breast feeding relationship affected by situations like this, many I'm sure.
2. History (family/social)
Before formula was invented babies had to be fed human milk to survive. It's estimated that only 2% of women physically cannot breastfeed with the possibility of up to 5% not being able to keep up production enough to sustain a baby without supplementation. Wow it makes me wonder how can this be when so many mothers these days proclaim that they can't keep up? The US average breastfeeding rate is only 30% exclusive breastfeeding by 3 months of age that means that 70% of women are physically unable?! I don't think so, what is more likely is that when a problem arises or a non-problem there is no one to ask for help or no good help around, and the reason why there is no good help around is because nobody has been breastfeeding for generations.
I myself had only ever seen one person breastfeed my whole life, and no one in mine or my husband's family had gone past a couple weeks or months if that. Honestly the idea of breastfeeding my baby never even crossed my mind until I read that it was supposed to be healthier for my baby, it didn't seem normal to me. My breastfeeding Journey started out like so many other moms misinformed, unsupported, and underappreciated. There is no doubt lack of support in family, social circles, and community is a huge contributor to the low breastfeeding rates in the US. Overcoming these problems is how we can learn and how we can help other moms like this in the future but if 70% of mothers are never nursing then who are we supposed to turn to? (Hint: We need doulas more than ever!)
Misinformation is a huge reason why a breast feeding relationship does not last. Much of this is because how vastly different a formula fed baby looks from a breastfed baby in demeanor and or size. Everyone is worried that a breastfed baby will be too demanding , wanting to nurse a lot and constantly wanting to be held. Yes! This is normal! An infant's stomach can only hold 4 ounces of liquid at the most even at six months. If you formula feed correctly you will notice you are using more bottles then you had imagined. Also all babies want to be held a lot, it is a natural need, and if you take away this need by keeping the baby on a strict schedule or letting them cry on their own you are suppressing those instincts. So hold your baby and enjoy it. Forget the naysayers and repeat after me: Fruit spoils babies dont! Breastfeeding is not only about filling an empty belly it's about fostering a relationship, physical contact and hormones, all the things that make you want to love and care for your baby. Formula fed babies drink up faster than breastfed babies and that may worry some moms because they may think their breastfed baby is not getting enough, but science says that bigger is not always better so try and see a new normal when your breastfeeding your baby. Don't get me started on how breastfeeding babies don't sleep through the night, no babies are supposed to sleep through the night. Breastfeeding babies waking up a lot to nurse decreases the risk of SIDS!
The sad part is that no matter how hard you try and correct this misinformation sometimes the ideas are so far ingrained that the breastfeeding relationship will suffer. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone come up to me and give me the "look of horror face" when they realize that my baby has teeth and I'm still breastfeeding (gasp!). That's misinformation! Babies don't use their teeth when they're breastfeeding and it doesn't hurt to breastfeed a baby with teeth, if a baby is latched on correctly they can't bite you! So there is nothing to be afraid of-unless they unlatch and decide to use you as a teething necklace- then be afraid be very afraid LOL! (And get yourself a teething necklace).
There you have it ladies the cards are stacked against you. So yes when I see a baby drinking formula inside I weep, I don't weep because I think formula is poison, or because I think that the mother is making bad choices for herself or her baby I really don't, fed is best. I weep because like so many others before her and around her she never had a fighting chance. It makes me sad and angry that she will never know the indescribable joys of breastfeeding or the triumph of overcoming the most basic of obstacles. I weep because I am angry at society and I'm sick of being embarrassed to feed my baby in public. I weep because I have no one to relate to or anyone to say to me "this too shall pass" when nursing gets tough. I weep because I will never get back all of the hours I lost when my first precious baby was new and I stressed and stressed over breastfeeding instead of enjoying it. Most of all I weep because I know no matter how much I support or advocate not every mother will understand, actually many mothers will not understand, I know this and I weep for them. I stuff it down and I put a smile on and I continue to support and advocate because maybe just maybe in the future they will choose a different path. But maybe they won't and in any case I can help them so that the next time they see a mom nursing they can be supportive socially or that they can learn some words of encouragement to share, and maybe even correct the misinformation.
So yes I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding but no I don't think you are terrible in any way for using formula and I understand better than you think the multitude of reasons why you choose to do so. I am in support of your decision, but I will not stop advocating not even for a second because someday this message make it through. Numbers may go up and breastfeeding may be easier for my daughter and for her daughter, it is my hope that by supporting and informing and advocating all mothers that I am paving the way to future success of future generations of mothers.
As a female growing up in the United States of America we have all heard it multiple times. Boys only want one thing. This was such a confusing phrase to me growing up, and though family and friends were well meaning, and doing what I'm sure they thought was best, I will never tell my daughter that boys only want one thing.
As a little girl I wondered, "what is that one thing?" I was confused. Confused about sexuality, about gender equality, and confused about how to go about the whole process. As I'm sure my parents were too, it's not easy to talk openly about sex or sexuality with your five year old who has too many questions, like I had. I have learned though that if you are uncomfortable they will be uncomfortable. Since I haven't had "the talk" with my little ones yet I can't say for sure how any of this will turn out, but I have had the talk with more students then I can count, so I do feel ready when that day comes. I will answer questions openly and honestly with my children. I will use appropriate termonology, and I will encourage them to come to me at anytime with more questions and I will always try and answer them.
As an adolescent I wondered "am I bad for also wanting one thing?" By using this statement boys only want one thing, we are putting boys down. We are making them incapable of love and affection in a way that is not sexualized. We are telling girls that their normal hormonal feelings are wrong. Truth is kids are going to feel these feelings no matter what and we have to teach our children how to deal with these feelings in a healthy way. We need to be honest with our children and tell them that yes I understand how badly you want to make out with that boy Billy down the street, but if you're going to make out with Billy don't you think it would be smart to know maybe what kind of music Billy likes to listen to first? Or maybe what sports he plays, or if he interested in the fact that you love to dance?? Because all of those things are very important since you can't spend 24/7 making out, you'll have to do something else at some point and don't you want to enjoy all of it and not just the making out? And what if you do make out with him and come to find out he has horrible taste in music and no interest in dancing? Then you are left with this lingering physical connection but no true emotional one. And that leads to heartbreak, to sadness, and to future heartbreak and sadness. We need to start teaching our children now about building healthy emotional relationships before taking it to the physical level.
And as a teen and young adult, "boys only want one thing and I want boys attention so I'm going to give them that one thing?" This my friends is where belly shirts and short shorts come in. I always knew I wanted a serious relationship, I wanted to get married, and be together forever, but I was not sure how to persue that. How do I get a boys attention? By appealing to the one thing they want: I need to be sexy. My trying to be sexy gave boys the wrong message, that I wanted one thing too. This led to my first sexual experiences being unconsentional date rape. I don't remember most of anything and I do not want this for my daughter.
What I do want for my daughter is to lay the foundation at a young age when she starts asking questions, I want to give answers, honest answers. When she has confusing feelings I want to be the one she confides in, and I pray that I can have the grace to say the right things to lead her down a straight path, and not curse the boy who breaks her heart. I will do my best to instilll in her that the reason to date is to find a husband and that you do not need to find a husband until your at the very least 18 so work on making great friends until then. I have hopes that she saves herself for her husband, or at the very least for someone who truly loves her and that she loves and trusts. I hope that she finds a boy who will respect her and love her first for her personality. I am still new to this parenting game but if these last two years have taught me anything its that you can't prepare enough, or at all in most cases. Either way my gears were turning on this little phrase that packs on so much meaning.
Any mother knows that mothering is sacrificial love. Its hard and messy. You forget to eat because you're so busy feeding little mouths, you dont get to shower regularly because the velcro baby screams as you lather, and you havn't gotten a new outfit for yourself in months because they keep growing out of theirs (and how do you resist new hair bows!?). Mothering is exhausting, its impossible somedays and at times all you can think is, "I can't do this anymore! I need a break! I just need a break!"
Four years ago I fell pregnant with out first child. Four years ago I started down the road of sacrificing my selfish wants and needs for the health and well being of my children. I HATED spinich, but it was good for the baby so I forced myself to eat it every day. I LOVED lunchmeat and avoided it all ten months because that is what the baby book said! I sacrificed my "hot" body and precious sleep. I thought pregnancy was difficult, and then the baby was born. She had colic, and food allergies up the wahzoo, I was on a Total Elimination Diet for months. I said no to outings and functions because of her poor sleep and my restricted diet (dont worry things got better!). I think about it often and back then i had this strange idea that she would get bigger and I could go back to "normal" haha! My normal was being selfish, was eating as I pleased, spending hours in the shower and sleeping late, and going on unlimited shopping sprees. We had a second baby and I continued to sacrifice. It continued to be difficult and I often was miserable about having to scarifice. I loved everything about mothering except the sacrifice.
I knew that there was something missing, and that there had to be a way for me to enjoy this journey a little bit more. Through prayer an idea came to me that this difficult sacrifice of myself is part of the mothering journey, and that it is worth it, so so worth it. That I needed to embrace it and all of the difficulty that comes with it. You'll never guess, but I started feeling happier in my mothering. When I wanted to watch netflix during nap but laundry was calling I repeated outloud, "the sacrifice is worth it, this is important work!" I would remind myself to smile and power through (dont get me wrong, sometimes I did watch the netflix...and eat chocolate...lots and lots of chocolate!). This ephifiny through prayer happened nearly a year ago now and since that time I have learned to love the sacrifice.
For the first time in four years I am taking a "break". I am bringing my not so baby sister and her bff to a concert of their favorite band. I will be away from my precious babies for three whole nights for the first time ever. What am I most excited for (besides some QT with the baby sis?) - SLEEP! Haha! This morning I woke up feeling well rested. I ate a large uninturrupted breakfast. I took a long uninturrupted shower (and shaved both of my legs). I put on a new dress, and did my hair an makeup just how I like to. Then we picked up snacks that I don't even have to share! Just before we left for the concert I called my babies and talked to them and heard their sweet voices and broke down. I miss them. My heart aches not to be with them. Taking a break is important. You can not overflow you children's cup if yours is empty! It has taken me fpur years to take this break because I'm scared. This is the first of many steps towards letting go. My children already are needing me less and less and thats hard. So very hard, and so very important. This season of sacrificial love is short in comparison to the rest of my selfish life. I am trying despirately to enjoy my "break" but my mind is forever going back to them. I wonder if this is how it is and always will be? Will I be old and grey and knitting in my rocker shedding a tear because I miss my adult babies!? I'm sure I will have days like that. That's sacrficial love I think my thoughts are not my own anymore. They will keep growing and I will keep working on letting go.
Now parden me I have a concert to attend. 😎👌
Life is tough. Like, really tough...and life with two busy toddlers doesn't make that toughness any easier. There will always be ups and downs, that's just how it is! The ups, in my opinion, are easy. You just kind of ride along enjoying things as you go and not really stands out as you're riding. Those lows though, those are the big ones, the lows are where youre going to find growth. The lows are where you're going to find true joy and strength.
Ask me how I know this...
Yeah, I'm in a low right now. Seriously though I'm totally cool with it (except on the days I'm loosing it of course), I've made a sort of peace with this chaos that surrounds me and it's no secret how I find Joy:
I pray! Numero uno is to pray. Always. I say a prayer of thanks for everything that I have been blessed with. Then I pray for grace. Grace to accept the things that I cannot change and the strength to change the things that I can. I pray when it gets really tough and my emotions are overwhelming me and I know that I am never alone.
2. Attention to Details
In the midsts of the chaos it is difficult to remember "stop and smell the flowers" but I promise if you take the time to it will make the world of difference. The other day I was scrubbing some poop off of the kitchen floor when I heard beautiful laughter coming from the living room. I immediately stopped what I was doing and tiptoed in to witness the joy happening right there in my own home (I know what you're thinking-scrubbing poop is joyful-not). I soaked up that joy like a sponge and finished my poop job with a smile on my face. It can be easy to find joy if only you can catch the details as you go.
Surround yourself in love and support. You do not even need to give people intimate details about whats going on, a simple I'm struggling right now to a good friend is enough to be lifted high. The people you love most were given to you for a reason during the lows it is important to remember them and lean on them you will be amaized how many people are rooting for you.
The last but most important piece to the puzzle is to grow. Trials are placed in your path for a reason, and what I am learning is that the reason is often to help you grow. I'm not talking he just fit into these pajamas last week grow. I mean spiritual growth. Soul growth. That is the most important growth to experience on this Earth. Now, I am no soul expert but in my experience if you're not growing in the hard times then you're missing something important.
The benefits of breastfeeding can not be disputed during this day of mass-information. Many women read up on the benefits of breast feeding during pregnancy and decide, “Okay, I guess I’m going to breastfeed then.” and then they hear about their neighbor, and their best friend, and their cousin, and their sister who all tried it but say that breastfeeding hurt, or that it was too hard. They say they had to give up, and it just didn't work out. So instead expectant moms say, “I guess I'll give it a try, but if it doesn't work out it's no big deal I'll just switch to bottles and formula.” We then have this trend of great numbers of women who begin breastfeeding exclusively but by three months less than half are still breastfeeding exclusively and I have to wonder why is that?
If I refelct on experience I think a number of factors play into this. Whether it be lack of emotional support, lack of physical help, lack of understanding of a breastfed babies needs as opposed to a formula fed babies needs, early return to work, the list is endless! One thought that is constantly in my mind as I am helping new mom’s with breastfeeding support is, “How could this issue have been avoided?” I think there is one way to set new mom’s up with breastfeeding success from the get go. Just as women prepare for childbirth they also need to prepare for breastfeeding, and that starts during pregnancy.
It would be helpful for women during pregnancy to seek out breastfeeding resources in their communities such as La Leche League meetings, support groups, mommy circles. Expecting moms should start looking into what common problems might arise and how to solve them quickly. They should have the phone number of a lactation consultant handy and maybe even speak with that consultant during pregnancy to address any issues or concerns. They should familiarize themselves with the language surrounding breastfeeding and familiarize themselves with other mothers who are breastfeeding.
I once heard a story of a gorilla in a zoo who had a baby but wouldn't nurse the baby because it had never seen another animal baby and it just couldn't figure out how. At first I thought, “Wait isn't this supposed to be natural!? That's a real animal with real animal instincts, not just a fake ones like humans!” The zoo keepers didn’t let this poor baby starve, they instead thought of an ingenious solution. The solution for this gorilla was to bring in a real live human breastfeeding mom and let that gorilla watch that mom breastfeed for a few sessions and then in turn the gorilla decided to breastfeed its own baby. Isn’t that completely wild!?!? (Pun intended, I'm a cornball). If a gorilla needed to watch and learn wouldn't it make sense that a human would need to watch and learn as well? The generation before us is a generation of formula feeders and there's nothing wrong with that! They thought they were doing what was best at the time, and formula is a wonderful and amazing tool for those who truly need it! But because the generation before us thought of it as a better nutrition supplement for children in turn the successful rates of breastfeeding were very very low in that generation. As a result my generation has not seen a lot of breastfeeding out in the open. I know that when I had my first child I had only ever seen one person breastfeed before and it was during the first week of their baby's life, they had cracked and bleeding nipples because of a bad latch that no one helped her with, she evidently switched to formula in the second week, and that was my first and only impression of what breast feeding was like before I breastfed my own baby. As I am sure many new mommas have similar experiences. And just like that gorilla in the story, doesn’t if make sense that seeing success would help to foster success, or at least make success seem more attainable?
So I urge you new Mama's, expecting mamas, mamas who are wanting to nurse their babies, and families were wanting to support mamas who would like to nurse their babies. Surround yourself in a community of people who will support you. If your local community does not have La Leche League groups, or Mommy meetups, or certified lactation consultants then look for that support in an online community or better yet create that support in your local community! Bring your partner and another support person whether it be your best friend, or your mother, or your sister, or your second cousin twice removed to a breastfeeding education class or let them borrow books that detail the inner workings of a breastfeeding relationship and have them commit to reading those books so that they may be able to support you in your journey. Ask a veteran Mom, “Hey would you mind being a support person for me on my breastfeeding Journey?” Go visit a local breastfeeding support group during your pregnancy and familiarize yourself with the local Lactation Consultants. When you have your baby have a lactation consultant watch you for a full feed on both sides. Arm yourself with knowledge, determination, and support and you will find success.
The true success though is the enjoyment that you have from breastfeeding your baby. If you have a game plan you're not going to have to worry about supply issues or big problems that come up because they won't be scary or worrisome since you've already heard of them they're not some foreign concept and you have an idea about how to handle them if they arise. You can just enjoy your baby and bask in their newborn sweetness. You can just enjoy breastfeeding and welcome all of the ups as well as the downs because you're prepared and ready for whatever comes your way. The best thing of all about being successful with breastfeeding is that you can pass that success on to other new moms and this progression will create a community of support and that is a beautiful thing, that is the ultimate goal.
I hope you enjoy my breastfeeding success preparation pamphlet and that you find it helps you in the beginning of your breastfeeding journey, best wishes to you and your sprouting family!
❤ Desiree Roddy
I am a student midwife and doula serving families in the North Country, and living life with five littles.