Friday, May 24, 2013

I made a choice

I've read all the stories about how hard women tried to nurse, and then it didn't work out and so then they "resorted" to formula.

My story with my second son is different.

With my eldest, I tried to breastfeed. Unfortunately I ended up back in the hospital a day after discharge with sky high blood pressure. After a 4 day hospital stay, a magnesium treatment, and blood pressure meds we threw in the towel on breastfeeding. He was formula fed while I was in the hospital and was very angry when I tried to breastfeed him upon my return.

With my second son, I didn't have preeclampsia or the lingering blood pressure issues that had prevented me from nursing my first son. I was hoping it would work out this time, and I'd be able to do "the best thing" for my baby.

Sure, I produced enough milk. The lactation consultant who burst into my room and started fondling me before I knew her name was very excited to see how much I was producing even on that first day. Lucky me! My baby was a champion eater (still is as a toddler!) and latched with no issues. On paper we were a breastfeeding dream!

Turns out I hated it. I hated breastfeeding. I didn't feel bonded to my son, I felt trapped every time he cried. He would cry because he was hungry and I would cry because I knew I'd have to feed him. I found myself wishing it would be over as soon as possible - I found myself wishing my child would stop eating as soon as possible. I started to resent my husband and his freedom and ability to leave the house (as much as I'd like to be, I'm not a "whip a boob out in public" kinda gal) whenever he wanted, or his ability to not have to drop everything since he was the baby's only food source. I wanted to sleep and let him take advantage of his paternity leave and get up with the baby during the night once in awhile.

I just felt trapped.

So I made a choice - I CHOSE to give up breastfeeding my baby despite my good production and my champion eater and a complete lack of physical obstacles in our way. I chose to feed my baby formula, and the day I made that choice I became a better mom to him and his brother. I bonded with my baby in a much more significant way feeding him with a bottle than I did breastfeeding him. I was able to pay more attention to my older son, and help him adjust to his new brother because I wasn't constantly attached at the boob to his new brother. My husband was able to bond with his new son, since feeding a newborn is basically the only real interaction you have with them. Even at only 18 months, my eldest was able to help feed his brother and he LOVED it. We all bonded with the newest member of our family in ways made possible by my choice to formula feed.

What gets me the most about this whole thing is this notion that the more you suffer for your kids, the more miserable you are, the harder it is for you, the better mom you are. I read all these stories about moms suffering through breastfeeding and saying how miserable it made them and I wonder why they didn't just stop. Being miserable doesn't make you a good mom. Suffering through something doesn't make you a good mom. "Toughing it out" doesn't make you a good mom. What makes you a good mom is being there - physically, emotionally and mentally for your kids. If breastfeeding, or whatever else prevents you from doing that and you can stop it, then stop it. Your kids need your love more than they need your breast milk.

Moms shouldn't have to list all the ways they tried to breastfeed, or all the reasons it didn't work out for them. We should be able to say, "I formula feed my baby." Done. Period. No explanation necessary. We should trust that moms are doing what is best for them and for their babies, even if that is formula feeding, or baby wearing, or letting the baby cry it out. It might not be the right choice for us, but it is the right choice for that mom and her family.

I didn't resort to formula feeding, I chose to do it. And I'm a damn good mom.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Introverted Parenting

So I stumbled upon this article:

I found it very interesting because I am 100% an introvert.  I have my select group of people that I'm comfortable with and can relax with but being around "new" people stresses me out.  I NEED alone time.  I NEED quiet time.  I'm introverted, and that's that.

So how does this affect parenting?  Well, first of all, I think "fail" is a poor choice of words in the above article.  I think introverts would naturally steer clear of Attachment Parenting (AP).  I know I sure did.  The thought of constantly wearing my baby, or having my kid sleep in my bed, or even breastfeeding puts me on edge.  I need my space to function as a good parent.  That doesn't mean I love my kids less than an AP parent does, it just means that AP wouldn't work for me.

When I first had My Big Guy I thought I'd breastfeed.  Well that didn't exactly go according to plan after a hospital stay, a magnesium treatment, and blood pressure meds.  With My Little Guy I figured I'd try it again.  Turns out I hated it.  I can't emphasize that enough.  I.  Hated.  It.  I was that mom who would cry when her baby cried because she knew she'd have to breastfeed him.  I felt trapped.  It wasn't this amazing bonding experience for us, it something that we both suffered through.  He was miserable and I was miserable and no one was having a good time.  My Big Guy was suffering too - I eventually gave up trying to feed My Little Guy from the boob and started pumping and all that time spent pumping was time spent ignoring My Big Guy.

At the time I didn't realize WHY breastfeeding was so awful for me, but after reading this article I get it.  I'm introverted and all that closeness was too much for me.  I need my space.  I need to be able to have someone else feed the baby from time to time.  I need to not be touched sometimes.  That's what I need to be a good mom to both my kids.  It doesn't mean I don't love them, or that I ignore their cries, or I don't want hugs and kisses and snuggles from them.  It just means that at the end of the day I need some time to myself to not be touched and sit in a nice quiet room to recharge my batteries.  It means that AP techniques tend to make me feel trapped.  I wonder if other introverts feel the same way?

Gradually I figured out what kind of parenting style I wanted to use, and as I have posted before ( I realized I'm a Free Range Parent.  Free Ranging works so much better for me as an introvert, and for my kids.  I wonder if other introverts feel similarly while extroverts find themselves leaning more towards AP?  Do Free Range Parents tend to be more introverted while AP parents tend to be more extroverted?

If/when we have more kids, I know now that as an introvert AP techniques will just not work for me.  I love my kids more than anything in the world, but I need space and quiet to be the best mom I can be for them.  And that's what's really the most important thing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mind your own damn business

We went to the Children's Museum today.  We all had a lot of fun, and I engaged in some lovely free-ranging of my eldest - letting him run around the area my youngest and I were playing in but not always being able to see him.  He loved it.  He made friends with one of the volunteers, and played, and laughed and learned.  It was great.

Strangely, that's not what my "Mind your own damn business" post is about.

While my youngest (I shall call him My Little Guy, and my eldest My Big Guy - I'm so clever) and I were enjoying some time at the water table, a fellow mom came up to us and commented on how cute My Little Guy is.  I thanked her, all the while thinking, "Yeah, I know."  Then she had the balls to tell me, "Shouldn't he be wearing one of the waterproof vests?"  C'mon now lady.  First of all, it's WATER.  He's not going to melt if he gets wet.  Perhaps your precious little baby cannot withstand a little water on her shirt, but My Little Guy thoroughly enjoys it.  Secondly, clearly I don't think he should be wearing a waterproof vest since I walked by the rack of them to get to the water table and ignored them.  And finally, what business is it of yours if I decide to let MY kid get all wet while playing?  How does that affect YOU?  Yeah, it doesn't.

When did this happen?  When did it become ok for people (and it's not even just other parents - don't get me started on the old ladies and their need for my children to be wearing hats in the winter) to openly make comments about your insignificant parenting choices?  I don't come up to you and say, "Hey, your kid looks like a nerd in that waterproof vest, and it seems to be impairing his ability to play, shouldn't you take it off?"  No, I mind my own damn business. Sure, I'll judge you silently in my head (be honest, this is something we ALL do all the time), but I'll keep it to myself.  When did it become ok to voice those judgments to other people?  More importantly, WHY is it ok to voice these judgments?  Why do people feel the need to insert themselves into others' family business?  And why do we let them?  It's not ok.  It's not ok for random person to tell me to put a hat on my kid when we walk the 15 feet from the car to the Jewel.  It doesn't matter if it's a comment on a parenting style in general or something as insignificant as a waterproof vest.  This is what I think is best for my kid in this situation, mind your own damn business and enjoy the damn water table.

The tricky part is how to respond to these people.  Yes, I'd like to slap them and tell them to mind their own damn business but since I'd prefer to not deal with assault charges I don't.  I smile politely and usually just say, "He's ok, thanks" and move on with my life.  But that's messed up too - I'm thanking someone for their judgment?  What's that about?  Maybe if we all started responding to these kinds of people in a much less polite way (like "Mind your own damn business") it'd stop?  It's something to think about, while thinking about how crazy that lady is to have her kid on a leash in the Children's Museum.  A LEASH.  Ugh.

Monday, May 20, 2013


I was a Free Range Parent before I knew there was such a thing as a Free Range Parent (

I want my kids to fall, I want them to fail, I want them to get hurt (not seriously of course) - and I want them to learn from it.  I want them to be independent in their actions and their thoughts.  I want them to feel safe and secure in their environments, and in trying new things.  I want them to learn everything they can about themselves and the world around them.  I want them to explore.  I want them to be free to do what they want to do (within reason, obviously).  I want them to know that I'm always here to help them, but that they should try to do it on their own first.  I want them to know their limits, and push themselves beyond them.  I want them to take pride in learning something new, or trying something new.  I want them to trust me, but more importantly trust themselves.  I want them to be confident in their abilities.  I want them to lead.  I want them to creative and think outside the box.  I want them to get dirty.  I want them to experience sadness and frustration and learn what those feelings are like, and how to cope with them.  I want them to know that not everyone wins, and to learn how to lose gracefully (something I myself need to work on from time to time).  I want them to understand competition.  I don't want them to be perpetually scared of the unknown.  I want them to be adventurous.  I want them to take pride in what they do and learn.  I want them to celebrate figuring something out on their own, or learning something new.  I want them to want to learn and figure things out.  I want them to walk to the park on their own (eventually) and play there on their own feeling confident in their safety.  I want them to make messes and realize how and why they happen, but learn that they need to be cleaned up.  I want them to not think of the world as a dangerous place, but somewhere to be explored.  I want them to not fear life, but view it as an adventure.  I want them to be the kids saying, "Hey!  Let's go do <random activity>" on the playground.  I want them to cause trouble (minor trouble).  I want them to get their feelings hurt, so that they know what it's like and to learn not to do it to others.  I want them to have good manners, and realize how far in life a little "please" and "thank you" can get you.  I want them to be their own persons, and do what they want (again, obviously within reason).  I want them to have fun every day.  I want them to learn something new, or try something new every day.  I want them to experience everything the world has to offer, and not be scared of it.  I don't want them to be sheltered by fear, or worry.  I want them to be excited about something new.

But most of all, I want my kids to know that I love them and always will.  No matter what.