Attack of the Lactating Mothers

It is only in the act of nursing that a woman realizes her motherhood in visible and tangible fashion; it is a joy of every moment.  ~Honore de Balzac

STFU.

I was a formula fed baby. I have had three daughters- all formula fed.

I can’t argue with the science: breastmilk is best. It provides nutrients that formula does not. All kinds of studies and professionals have proven that it holds the most nutritional value for your precious infant. You’ll hear no argument from me on these points.

Where I take issue? Things like the above quote. Blanket statements that discredit and indeed insult bottle-feeding mothers. Make us seem like the bottom feeders of the mother hood. Make us seem like criminals.

I am in terrific health. Never had a weight issue, have 20/20 vision, no allergies, pulled a respectable B average all through school & graduated with an honours degree in Political Science from university. My daughters? All three are healthy, not an allergy to report, ranged between the 30th & 50th percentile for weight at each checkup & my oldest daughter is excelling in a french-immersion program in her early years of education. Could you pick my kids out of a line up and call them formula fed? Or myself, for that matter? Your answer is no.

I do not love my children less because the first nipple in their mouths was attached to a bottle. My daughters do not shy away from my touch because they weren’t nuzzled to my breast in their first moments…or any moment after.

Breastfeeding never came naturally to me. It was not organic to my motherhood. I did my research. I read the books, spoke to many mothers from both sides of the fence and get great satisfaction from watching my greatest friends bond with their children through breastfeeding. My husband also gets his own satisfaction of being able to bond with his daughters in the same ways as I do from their first feeding to their last bottle ever. It was an important factor for my husband, and one he was very passionate about. Not only did he want to help me, he wanted his own private moments to meet his daughters and learn their personalities.

It may be because I’m on the other side of the tracks (is that grass really greener?), but I’ve recently been witness to a shift in the debate around me regarding bottle vs. breast. And let me tell ya…it ain’t pretty. Let me dispel a few ‘assumptions’ when it comes to what we formula-feeders are like:

1)  Parents who formula feed want to ensure a schedule in their child’s eating habits. All three of my daughters fed on-demand for their entire life…and my 5 year old still likes to dictate dinner times!

2) Parents who formula feed have a weight requirement they strive for their child to maintain. Err…my kids were, by no stretch of the imagination, fat babies. Rolls upon rolls. An extra roll inside the diaper. They gain and gain until around 18 months and it’s like they don’t gain a pound again until age 4. Bizarre. And nothing at all to do with what they sucked back on Day Two of their life.

3) Parents who breastfeed care more about convenience in their lives and less about the baby’s health. Should I punch you now, or later? I believe that my mental, physical and emotional well-being directly reflects the same in my children. If I am stressed, she will be stressed. If I feel awkward, so will she. The breastfeeding mother next to me at the mall does not love her child more than I do. Does not care more about her child’s health than I do. She has chosen a lifestyle that works for her, and I have done likewise.

For each of my pregnancies, I considered the breast vs. bottle debate seperately. And came to the same conclusion each time. Formula works for us. My daughters are happy, healthy, smart, respectful young ladies who love us unconditionally and show it in every way possible. We have not failed them as parents…quite the opposite, we have chosen to introduce them to the “real” Mom & Dad from the very start.

I have enjoyed my motherhood in a “visible and tangible fashion” every day for over 5 years. And only a small fraction of that has anything to do with feeding them. My heart is full, and so are their bellies.

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