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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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”

Motherhood with the Monster

Motherhood has got me feeling pretty crazy these days.

Tonight, for example, I put face wash in my hair and forgot to use body wash during my shower. Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened.

To be fair, I love being a mom. Bell brings me so much joy. Link brings me so much peace. I love watching them grow; love teaching them how to live a life built on joy and faith.

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A lot of days, my motherhood looks like my happy Instagram feed. But there’s another face to my motherhood. Yes, I’ve alluded to it before. Blogged about it even. But when it comes down to it, I have a hard time looking this face in the eye.

Each semester, I teach my students about writing from a brilliant feature story called Mrs. Kelly’s Monster. It won the inaugural Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1979. Mrs. Edna Kelly’s Monster is a collection of blood vessels that have grown into an abnormal mass in her brain. The story tells a detailed account of her surgery to bravely have this Monster removed, but in the end, she succumbs to it.

Though my Monster is nothing like Mrs. Kelly’s, it is just as sinister. My Monster is a shape-shifter. Sometimes it looks like anxiety. Other times deep loneliness and hopelessness. A few times, OCD behavior. More recently, it’s materialized as postpartum depression.

Continue reading “Motherhood with the Monster”