I’m a Sisterhood of Motherhood Partner and am a sponsored blog partner, but all opinions are my own. Please see below for additional information.
We all worry about what others think. It’s only human. We want to be competent, talented, safe and wise in our choices. Motherhood hits us like a Mack Truck because all of a sudden, hundreds of choices face us: from what gear we will invest in to help us care for our babies, to whom we will trust to look after our babies when we’re not there, to how we will feed our babies. These choices don’t get made in a vacuum. When we step outside of our homes into the public realm, whether that be on a bus, in a playground, or at a restaurant, the LOOK of others can invade us. And when that look is a disapproving one, it can bruise our soul.
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When I had my first baby back in 2004, I felt too embarrassed to go out and breastfeed him in public. I struggled with covering myself up and felt so uncomfortable that I pretty soon gave up and resorted to feeding him at home in my nursing chair, where I felt safe. No one would look at me funny. No one who roll their eyes and whisper to a friend that I was ruining their lunch. Problem is that I ended up totally alienated and lonely. My choice didn’t support some of the other things I was needing at the time, like friendship with other new moms, time outside on a spring day, and the freedom to enjoy my baby in an eating establishment that wasn’t my own kitchen!
I’ve talked a lot about my own struggles with nursing, my ups and downs, but what I’ve talked less about is how judged I felt when I decided (around the time that my first was eight months old) that I needed to start supplementing with formula. I’d be lying if I said this was easy for me. I was back at work and pumping several times a day to try to store up enough milk to feed the baby. Each day I pumped less, no matter how hard I tried, and each morning and night I looked into the freezer with a pit in my stomach feeling like a horrible failure. There were many tears. Despite by best efforts, I was not producing enough milk for the baby — who was eating more and more each day — and it was inevitable that the baby was going to start getting some bottles that were filled with formula and not just pumped milk.
So on several occasions, I stood in our local pharmacy with tears in my eyes, looking at the containers of formula and feeling like I had failed. On one certain day, a woman walked by and said to me “just buy it, you’ll have it if you need it.”
So I bought a tin of formula, mixed it in with my pumped milk, and life went on. Supplementing my breast milk with formula turned out to be helpful for me, as it took a lot of the stress off of breastfeeding.. I soon had another baby (13.5 months after my first!) and my experience with feeding that baby was totally different than my experience feeding my first. Ditto for numbers 3, 4 and 5. I am the same person, and the same mom of course, but my experiences with feeding each of my 5 kids have been remarkably different in many ways.
Supplementing with formula with my first infant — which is something I have been too embarrassed to write about – actually helped me nurse that baby longer. I relaxed, I kept at it, and I found a system that worked for me, turning from exclusive nursing to nursing and supplementing. With other babies, I followed other routines. No two babies are alike, no two moms are alike, and no mom is the same mom with different babies, either. That much I do know to be true.
Now I look back and can’t believe the grief I put myself through. All my children have had the same mom, but they’ve gotten her at different stages. The Mom to #1 quivered in a pharmacy with guilt and insecurity, petrified that she wasn’t enough of a mom and that she wouldn’t care for her baby well enough. The Mom of #5 knows better, she disdains judgement and any hint of “I do it better” or “I do it best.” She knows there is no such thing, that that all each of us can do is be our best self. Comparing oneself to others is a deep and dark pit, and we all have to live our own truth and organize our life choices in a way that rings true to our own personal gut. Our strength lies in trusting that gut and making choices that suit our own needs.
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Because I believe so deeply that we mothers and fathers need to support each other in our choices, I am thrilled to announce that I have agreed to be a Sisterhood of Motherhood partner with Similac. Over the coming months, I will be writing several sponsored blog posts in support of acceptance, choice, support, and love. About accepting and embracing other mothers in the choices they make, even if they differ from our own. All of the things that CloudMom has come to stand for.
If you’ve felt judged, disdained, or scorned, please watch and share the video above, which illustrates why we need to put our differences aside and keep our eye on the 8-ball, our babies. You can also meet and share ideas with other moms who are learning as they go at their Facebook page.
Similac partnered with bloggers such as me for its Sisterhood of Motherhood Program. As part of this program, I received compensation for my time. Similac believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Similac’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.