Throughout my first pregnancy, I was that crazy mom-to-be surfing the web reading about baby tips, suggestions and things to buy for hours on end. I signed us up for classes that had anything and everything to do with babies. Moreover, I was determined to be the very best mom I could be for Mia and that included breastfeeding her. It could very well be due to the fact that I was being told breast milk was like “liquid gold” for my child at every.single.preggo follow up. That it provided immunity, antibodies, simpler digestion, a decrease in ear infections and interestingly enough, even lowered the risks of diseases such as leukemia. But becoming a first-time mom was certainly not a walk in the park. It made me question who I am and what I physically can do. Case in point, my breastfeeding journey.
I was beyond devastated when a team of lactation consultants and doctors advised me to stop breastfeeding altogether merely one month after I had Mia. To think my body was not ‘mommy material’ made me feel like the worse mom ever. I mean I was being told that breast milk was like liquid gold, right?! And side note, why is it referred to that way? Why can’t we call it like diamonds?! Aren’t diamonds forever and a girl’s best friend? I digressed. So since I had to stop breastfeeding altogether and had to give my little love formula, I then started to feel like an inadequate mom. I yearned to give my child the good stuff. To give her nothing but the best. But physically, I couldn’t do it. And for that, I became really hard on myself. Post-partum depression at its best. More so when I saw my little nugget become constipated from all the iron found in formula and always irritable from it. Quick gimme some of the liquid gold stuff to ease her pain!
Fast forward three years to finding out we were having baby numero dos. My initial thought was “great, I’ll for sure be depriving another child from the good stuff.” And those crazy thoughts of being an inadequate mom started to surface again. But I tried to reassure myself that it really was not a big deal in the grand scheme of things more so since our first is a very active healthy kid. Liquid gold or no liquid gold.
So when the time came and they plopped our second onto my chest, she immediately moved her tiny little nose into position and latched on. All I could do was cry in sheer happiness and take it all in. I told myself that even if it was for just one month I’d be ok with that. That if my body would just refuse to let it happen again that I wouldn’t be so hard on myself, this time around. I kept thinking “just take it one day at a time”. And that one day at a time is now almost 6 months! Talk about making a comeback, right?
And even though I’m beyond grateful my body worked its magic this second time around, my breastfeeding journey has not been easy (as I’m sure it has not been for most). But I’m embracing it all. The good (being able to physically produce liquid gold), the beautiful (bonding time) and the ugly (mastitis, thrush, plugged ducts, low supply, etc.).
Having been on both ends of the spectrum, I realize now that nursing a baby is not an indicator of what it takes to be a good mom. A good mom is one that rises above all the mommy adversities and situations thrown her way and pushes forward.
So whether you’re exclusively breastfeeding, supplementing or giving your baby a bottle/formula, none should be factors used to determine if you’re an adequate or inadequate mother. Please, let’s just stop the shaming. A child simply needs a happy, emotionally healthy mom to feed them and give them lots of love. In the end, that’s all that really matters.
Abrazos (hugs) — Gladys