I have talked before on my blog about the hardship I experienced trying to breastfeed, and the guilt and judgment I felt/still feel for not being successful. So, I asked my best friend (who blogs at A Jane of All Trades, Master of None), to do a guest blog on why she chose not to breastfeed. So with that, let's welcome a wonderful woman, teacher, mother, and BFF!....
Ever since I was pregnant with my first daughter I have been plagued with the question, “Are you going to breast feed?”
The first time someone asked me, I was barely pregnant and I was a little taken aback by this question. I didn’t know people readily asked this question and I didn’t know it was anyone’s business. I know I had never ever thought to ask another woman this question.
Then another person asked me.
WHAT!? Is this normal?
Then another person asked.
Each time I was asked, I responded with “We’re going to try.” It seemed like the right answer and it usually stopped any further questions that concerned what my child would eat and where she would get it from.
Deep down though, I knew I was really struggling with the thought of breastfeeding. I knew all the health benefits. I knew it would save us money. I knew I would lose the weight faster, but honestly it creeped me out.
And before you judge, let me explain. My mom had me at 17 and her number one goal in life was to make sure that NEVER happened to me. From the time I was 12, I was told “I don’t care if you have sex, but he and you better be protected.”
I felt like I heard this every day of my life...
And you would think with talk like that, sexuality and your body would be an open discussion in our house. No. It was actually quite the opposite.
Some examples: I was not allowed to walk around in t-shirts because of my brothers. My mom mortified me by telling her friends when I got my first period. I once had a friend (around 13) who didn’t wear underwear to bed, and when I asked my parents about this, they practically chastised the girl and her parents. If I wore an outfit that was maybe tight or slightly inappropriate, my aunt told me I deserved to be raped.
By the time I was actually at the age of being sexual, sex was cold for me. I associated sex with teenage pregnancy, and I associated my body with something that needed to be secret. To this day, I will do everything to make sure no one sees me naked. Even my husband didn’t actually see me naked for a good while after we were already having sex.
Fast forward to January 2007. I was 3 months out from being a mom and I still had no idea what I was going to do about breast feeding. I had gone from “I will try” to “maybe I’ll just pump.”
Then I visited my friend after right after delivering her baby. While I was there it was feeding time, and she fed him without hesitation right there in front of my friend and me. She didn’t cover herself, and honestly, she didn’t need to. But it was in that moment that I knew I was not going to be able to do it. I knew that I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that breastfeeding would not be possible.
I am not disgusted by others that breastfeed. I’m not anti-breastfeeding. I hate that society accepts Brittney’s cleavage spilling out, but then want women to breastfeed in a restaurant bathroom.
What I disagree with is the constant judgment that I faced (and still face now with my second child). Worse yet, I hate the judgment that women who really did try face. And ladies, it is not the men who judge us...it is other women. Women are so mean.
And we call ourselves a sisterhood? Really?
Each and every mother will be faced with a point where she will know all the disadvantages and advantages of her actions, and will make the decision to do what is right for her.
And they can call her selfish. And they say she is a bad mother. And they launch campaign after campaign that puts her down for her choice. But in the end, it is her decision. And just as I don’t want the government making decisions about my body, I don’t want my "sisterhood" deeming me unfit because of MY decisions about my body.
With my second daughter, who was born just a month ago, I have learned to say “breastfeeding didn’t work for us,” when asked if I am breast feeding. What I really want to say though is "What did you feed your kid last night? Was it the best possible choice? Could you have done something else?" Just so they get how inappropriate and not their business their question is.
Five years late, I can say that my first born is very healthy. She has the occasional ear infection, but honestly we really only have to go to the doctor about twice a year. She is incredibly bright and inquisitive. And her weight is exactly on point for her height and age. She is all of those things that the breastfeeding campaigns promise you your formula fed baby won't be.
And so maybe I didn’t lose that baby weight, but I’m okay with that.