So, I'm sure you've seen - all the rage - surrounding Breast Feeding. It's everywhere! There's even a stoic model breastfeeding twins on the new Equinox gym advertisement. I get that they are doing it for controversial attention, which is great for advertising, but doesn't all of this take away from the miracle that is breast feeding? All this publicity seems to exploit the sanctity of the process.
I guest write on a friends mommy-blog and she recently posted on the "Hot-Button topic" of blatant Public Breast Feeding. While I watched her get practically crucified for her outrageous opinion that "one should respect others around them and wear a cover", it dawned on me that I hadn't really formed an opinion on the matter. I read some counter 'arguments' and understand the convenience of Public Breast Feeding. I'm not living under a rock, all of my friends breast feed their children in different manners and I support them all. The more I read, the more my heart sank - so many scientific facts about why breast is best, women bashing others for not breastfeeding, and even men weighing in on the subject. I will never know if I would have been a public breastfeeder, how long I would have breast fed my child, or how long I would have pumped if my child wouldn't latch- because I simply did not create her. Trust me, I'm well aware of all the benefits of breast feeding. I also know that my formula-fed kid gets sick less often than her breast-fed peers, I think it's beautifully incredible nonetheless. I was actually giving lactation a considerable amount of thought. Honestly, I'm not even joking - Google it - you'll find articles of mamas who breast fed their adopted babies. That's dedication. But, this post is dedicated to the mamas that couldn't breastfeed.
You may feel a little kick in the nipple every time you log onto Facebook and see a mother's breast fastened to her baby suckling away. In the same way that seeing a pregnancy announcement gives you that familiar little punch in the ovary. Whatever your opinion may be, this isn't about them- and it isn't supposed to make us feel inferior or as though we aren't doing the best we can for our babies. This is something that we just aren't meant to experience. And that's ok. Try to understand that we get to see life in an entirely different light while we are sitting there, blessed to be feeding a child that was or wasn't born to us.
My daughter was a preemie. The hospital supplied us with donor breast milk and fed her through a feeding tube. Biological child or not, the bond that comes through feeding is a coveted one. As a brand new adoptive mom I was naturally intrigued with breastfeeding. While in the NICU one day, the nurse encouraged me to let my baby suck on my nipple (instead of the pacifier) while she was being fed through the tube. This would help her brain to pair the sensation to suck with eating, and as a result, she'd learn to bottle feed quicker. This would scientifically benefit her? I should do this.. But I felt self-conscious for some reason and told her I'll just let her use the Paci. She left the room, my mind wandered, "Am I already a bad mom?" Of course I thought about what it would be like.. I started trying to maneuver us into a breastfeeding position. If you've ever held a baby in the NICU it's like holding a fragile bomb attached to all these very important wires. My heart was racing in anticipation of this experience I had heard so much about... Just then I knocked one of the monitors off of her and sent all the alarms beeping! It gave me a heart attack, did I just kill my child?! The nurse ran back into the room, let's be real- she knew what I was trying to do. She adjusted the monitors back into place, looked me in the eye and asked me again if I was still sure I wanted to use the pacifier - I nodded in total embarrassment.
In that moment I gained a new perspective. As I held my precious baby - skin to skin and heart to heart - I breathed her in and watched her little 4 pound body be fed. I began to sob, like a Kardashian ugly cry. I realized I should be grateful for what I have and that nothing else mattered but nurturing this little life I was holding on my chest. When something like this strikes you, it temporarily clears your memory of pain, confusion and everything you thought you should be doing. I held on to the realness of that moment. It brought me clarity that it doesn't matter what politically-correct mom related thing I do or say, whether I breast or formula feed, or if I make organic food or buy organic food (I'm not going to debate organic food). What matters is that motherhood will bring its own set of challenges and I think everyone needs to see the diverse beauty of it. We all will have different experiences and do what we think is best. You guys, your baby will know your love for them, not by the method at which you feed them or if/how you even birthed them. These things do not define love. To my friends who are waiting to adopt or my friends that haven't had children yet - should you find yourself feeding your baby one day (and you will), I hope you feel nothing but blessed.