Can everyone just shut up about breastfeeding?

I’ve about had it.

Can we all just collectively agree that parenting is hard. Any aspect of it. Motherhood, fatherhood, pregnancy, infertility – all of it. It is HARD.

But my goodness, if we don’t make it harder for each other than we need to.

I came across a Facebook post earlier today that talked about how women aren’t “lucky” to be able to breastfeed, they are just more determined and stubborn than you. While this wasn’t the exact wording, this was the clear message.

I walked away feeling like the only difference between moms that breastfeed and moms that don’t is their sheer desire to give their baby what’s best.

I call a big, fat, hearty load of B.S.

If this is how you feel about breastfeeding, that is so great for you. I’m so glad you are such a strong, awesome mom.

If this is NOT how you feel, I say to you: Girl, I freaking get you.

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Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It is so awesome and in some ways magical. It’s empowering and beautiful. But it has caused mental strain in a way that few other things in my life have.

And frankly no one ever talks about this.

Instead, it’s this horrible culture of mom-shaming and comparison. And I’ve had about enough of it. Why do people even feel the need to comment about it anyway? (and ironically, here I am blogging about it…)

I tried nursing my daughter for one agonizing month. And after feeling like someone had viciously taken a cheese grater to my nipples for weeks on end, I called it quits. I pumped exclusively for five months then switched to formula.

I’m awesome. Bellamy is awesome. End of story.

With Lincoln, it was an entirely different experience. He was a champion nurser. It was almost effortless from day one. I will say that I was very *gasp* lucky to have a baby that nursed so well, especially after such a challenging experience with Bellamy.

But around 5 months in, Link was on some heavy duty antibiotics for a UTI and developed thrush. Guess who also got thrush? This mama. If you’ve never experienced thrush in your boobies while nursing, praise everything. That was the most painful experience of my life, including childbirth. I tried to stick it out as long as I could, screaming in pain during pumping sessions, but finally, it was too much.

I also started a medication around the same time that was not safe to take while breastfeeding, so Link is now exclusively on formula.

I’m awesome. Lincoln is awesome. End of story.

Mother is best 

Both times, ending breastfeeding broke my heart. It was an agonizing experience for me. But both times, I knew it was the right call.

You see, our culture puts an emphasis on mothers sacrificing anything and everything for their babies to an unhealthy extent.

I am here to say that sometimes, you are just lucky to have a baby that nurses well. Sometimes, it’s because you have fought through literal sweat, blood and tears to keep nursing. Sometimes formula is the very best choice for you and for baby.

You’ve heard that breast is best. You’ve heard that fed is best.

I’m here to say that mother knows best. Don’t let anyone tell you that you just didn’t try hard enough. Don’t let them tell you that if only you had been more selfless things would be easier.

In fact, don’t let them tell you ANYTHING about how you should breastfeed. That is your decision to make.

Take care of you

One of the big reasons I stopped nursing Bellamy was because of my struggle with postpartum depression. I was a brand new mom, trying to balance a new baby, a new role as a mother and the crippling emotional pain that comes for a lot of women with postpartum.

Nursing was just one more challenge. I am ashamed to admit this, but in my very distressed state, as nursing became more and more frustrating, it started creating a wedge between Bellamy and me. I was angry at her. I once swore at my precious newborn in broken frustration, then wept in bitter shame.

I was having a hard enough time being kind to myself, I didn’t need one more reason to spin thoughts into such negative lies.

So I started pumping instead. For my own sanity. And you know what, it was hard. But it helped me be a better version of myself, which made me a better mom.

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Women don’t talk enough about making choices to help themselves. This was a choice for me. And frankly, I believe it was a selfless one. Choosing to love and take care of myself always blesses my family, and this was no exception.

Stop it 

It’s not our place to judge other mothers. Most women will struggle with their parenting decisions without the help of a poorly timed or thought out comment. Let’s not make it worse for great moms who are trying just as hard as you.

Stop the criticizing. Stop the judging. Just stop talking about breastfeeding!

Instead, offer up useful, helpful conversations, like “What are you doing to take care of yourself, mama?” “This is a stressful time, can I bring you a meal?” “Let’s go to lunch!”

All of these are so much better and healthier (for everyone) than a passive aggressive conversation, comment or social media post about breastfeeding. Or co-sleeping. Or homeschooling vs. public schooling. Or any decision someone other than you makes.

Just be good to each other.

Because my sweet, darling kids are making me crazy enough as is. Chances are, yours are, too. Let’s help each other through the insanity, rather than into it.

 

 

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An accidental vacation

I recently wrote about my desires to live more intentionally. Well, sometimes life offers you a chance for spontaneity and you have to take it.

Such was the case for the Whitlock Family {Accidental} Summer Vacation 2017.

Last Wednesday I decided to take our kids to visit my mom. I had gotten off the phone with her early that morning and told Eric, “I need to go to Utah today.” He thought I was crazy agreed and rearranged a few things at work so he could come too while I packed up our car for a couple days in Utah.

On the way there, we heard the news that Eric’s sister’s water had just broken and she was having her sweet baby girl, Eden. We joked about going to Arizona after our time in Utah.

Eric and I looked at each other.

“Why don’t we?” I said.

Continue reading “An accidental vacation”

Life, intentionally

Last time I blogged, I got pretty real about my struggle with postpartum depression.

I’d like to get real again and sing the praises of my doctor and modern medicine. I started medication for my PPD over a month ago. It has been quite literally life changing. I feel like I have walked out of a haze and fog into the brilliant sunlight. It has helped my mind return to equilibrium. 

Since starting the medication, I have found so much joy in motherhood. Part of that has been the SSRIs, and part, I’d like to think, has been my resolve to live more intentionally. What you may not know is that I suffered from debilitating depression my entire second pregnancy. One day I’ll write about it. But not yet.

Continue reading “Life, intentionally”

The untold truth of every Momcation

I am currently in Denver at a very geeky journalism conference. Go NICAR.

It’s the second trip I’ve taken away from my sweet babe, Bellamy. She’s almost 9 months old and she is the dearest darling you’ll ever meet.

Here’s proof.

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See?

Now, I love this girl more than most things.

But sometimes, you need a vacation from being a mom. Continue reading “The untold truth of every Momcation”

I won’t love myself for my daugther

 

Before my daughter was born, I had an epiphany.

Or so I thought.

I had always struggled to speak kindly toward myself. As I prepared to give birth to my first child, I decided to make some changes. Continue reading “I won’t love myself for my daugther”

{Almost} Everything no one told me before Motherhood

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I would like to take a minute to hold all the new moms out there. Let’s just fall into each other’s arms and cry for a hot minute. Or five. Or maybe a whole hour.

It’s so hard, mama.

You either already have or very soon will cross the threshold into Mommyville. I wish someone had told me before I joined the ranks of the many, the broken and the barely-holding-it-together. Continue reading “{Almost} Everything no one told me before Motherhood”

4 ways to keep my family spiritually strong

IMG_1820Children have always terrified me.

In fact, perhaps the most horrifying moment of my life to date was the birthing class I attended before having my daughter; a moment of trauma rivaled only by the time accidentally watched the hobbling scene from “Misery.”

But despite the fear of physically bringing children into the world — which turned out to be amazing — raising children in a world with crumbling morals is far more frightening.

As a woman of faith, creating a faith-promoting environment for my family is one of my top priorities. Continue reading “4 ways to keep my family spiritually strong”