Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A cow by any other name

Mothers scare me.


Other mothers are intimidating. Maybe its because they all seem so together and I just keep fumbling along, doing the best I can and hoping my ineptitude isn't going to turn Kate into something awful, like a career criminal, exotic "dancer" or Jehovah's Witness.

The truth is, other mothers have such strong opinions about things. It usually reflects their choices and how they raise their children, and they often take it personally if you decline to try their methods or choose another path for your offspring. Often times I get a comment or lecture if I throw out some off hand comment, like when I mentioned that one time I let Kate watch Family Guy while I cooked dinner and I was reminded babies shouldn't watch TV. Well, no shit. But the chicken ain't gonna grill itself.

One of the many topics that get mothers all hot and bothered is breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding. I'm breastfeeding. I honestly think I'm doing it because I was guilted into it by all the books and other mothers that said, in very specific terms, that my baby would be a total loser if I didn't nurse her (not those exact words, but you get the picture). Ridiculous, right? I was formula fed and damn if I'm didn't grow up to be a pretty okay adult. I rarely get sick, am not obese and fingers crossed, am not a loser.

So while I started nursing out of guilt, I actually ended up liking it. It is extremely rewarding each time your baby is weighed and you know that YOU DID THAT for her, that you are giving her something that no one else can.

Yet that is exactly why it is so difficult. No one else can do it for you. You have to plan and pump in advance for any kind of event, be it a few glasses of wine or an afternoon of mommy time (sans baby). Last week, while on vacation, I found myself constantly alone with Kate, nursing her while family frolicked at the beach. I got frustrated with my husband, accusing him of sticking me with the baby all the time when really, what could he do?

In September, Ben and I are going on a 4 day vacation again, this time without Katertot. I'm terrified. Not just to leave my precious baby (whom I have a hard time spending a few hours away from) but how I'm going to be able to provide for her while I'm away. When we go, Kate will be approximately 6 months old and eating around 40 oz. of milk a day. I have exactly 3 oz. of milk stored up in the freezer, and if this week continues on the same path, I'll be using that up this weekend so I can have a much needed drink or two.

My mom mentioned supplementing with formula. I was horrified. And really, I don't know why. If I had gone back to work, I would have definitely switched to formula, no questions, no concerns. But there is something about the fact that I am staying home that makes me feel like I should continue nursing. I guess I kind of feel like it is my job. For that reason alone, I feel guilty about wanting to give Kate formula..

But frankly, I'm tired. I'm tired of being the only person who can get Kate to go down at night because I feed her last. I'm tired of being the only person who can get up for midnight feedings, and I'm tired that I can't have a girls night out without planning far in advance. I'm even a little tired of not being able to finish a blog post.

So you will have to excuse me, I need to go feed my daughter.


Allison said...

Amen! And it is HARD! We did this dance for about a month until I realized it was making our whole house miserable. I cried for about three days when I put him on formula, and haven't looked back. In all my 28 years of life, no one has ever asked me what I ate when I was 6 months old. :) Don't feel guilty! One or two bottles of formula won't hurt- it will probably help everyone! Hang in there, mom, you are doing a phenomenal job.

Holly said...

I felt guilty the whole three weeks I weaned Maddy to get ready to go back to work. Every once and I while I wonder what if I had kept it up (I would have gone crazy!!!). The switch is mentally hard, but it's nice to have your sanity back. And guess what? Maddy is in daycare and has had one cold in the five months since on formula. Whatever decision you make, it's all good.

gina said...

the two cents that i have is what my doctor informed me of when i said almost those exact words of frustration..."what good as a mother are you, regardless of the milk, if you are crazy and neurotic and stressed?? that was all i needed/wanted to hear to tell me it was not just ok, but actually good for flynn to get some formula every now and again

Nikki said...

There is nothing wrong with formula. I'm just a person that never wanted to start paying for formula. I know I'm cheap! It does get annoying to be the only one who can feed the baby, but it gets better once they start eating solids. I can totally understand your frustration.

Wall Family said...

Don't let the other mothers (or the guilt) get to you! Every child is different, as is every opinion. There is no right/wrong. Time away from the girls is the only thing that truly refreshes me. We went out of town without Sarabeth when she was 3 months old, and I stopped nursing before the trip. I nursed Anabelle longer and Sarabeth is the healthier one between the 2 of them. Do what you need to do, not only for Kate, but for yourself. You're doing great!!

And to the tune of not being able to finish something because you have to nurse...I totally understand. I had to stop writing this to clean up a certain 3 year old's poop off the bathroom floor b/c she refuses to use the potty. Lovely. It's always something.

jessie said...

girl, I know exactly how you feel. I totally agree with what gina said. A crazy mom does not equal a happy family. The bottom line, only you, Kate and Ben are the people that matter. You must do what is right for you and your family, no one elses. I nursed both my girls until they were 4 months. Had to stop with teh first because of crazy work environment and no time to pump. And I worked with all females. Had to stop with Maggie because my milkers stopped milking to quote Chris. I tried everything and when I realized that I was on prescription medication to help with the problem and still not getting any results, I bought the formula. I don't believe any of the my kid sick/verses not sick stuff of breast vs formula. Hattie had one ear infection the whole time, my nephew who was breastfed for 9 months had to have two sets of tubes!!!! Ear infections all the time. I think that no matter what, you do what is right for you and your family, but remember a happy mom = happy baby (well most of the time anyways, sometimes those babies don't want to cooperate)
love ya!!