When The Lad came, we gave him formula the first night to get some sleep and then tried nursing. I was prepared for it to be hard and to hurt at first. It was and it did, but we continued and I kept a can of formula ready. The can grew dusty. When I went back to work and had to become intimate with the damned pump, I expected every week to be the last one. Fifteen ounces a day, more or less, was my pumping threshold, and surely The Lad would need more. But on average, he never did. Nursing became What Works Now, and here I am on the other side of the breast vs. bottle nonsense.
These anti-breastfeeding women can screw off, I thought as I pumped milk for The Lad and read about celebs and, more appallingly, a parenting magazine editor deeming nursing gross and "creepy." One of the pseudo-celebs compared public breastfeeding to shitting in public and that editor publicly declared breastfeeding something to which "funbags" should never be subjected. Really? A grown, educated woman whose job it is to disseminate information to parents is using what is possibly the worst euphemism ever for boobs and saying breasts should only be used for sex.
I've been thinking about breastfeeding a lot lately. The Lad and I have hit the six-month mark, which many mothers decide is enough for breastfeeding. Truthfully, I wasn't sure we would last six days, and even when we passed that and then six weeks, I figured surely six months would be my limit. He eats solids. He has teeth. ("That's the end of that," my mother-in-law declared.) I still think the pump is an unnatural nuisance, and when I nurse him, The Lad is often distracted these days, eager to scoot backward into whatever adventures he can find.
But but but. Breastfeeding still is cheap and easy. I can nurse anywhere and have. The pump has become just one more thing on the daily to-do list. The Lad has learned to keep his chompers to himself. Nursing is one of the few times The Lad is still enough to snuggle these days. I've decided -- as I have repeatedly since he was born -- to keep breastfeeding until it doesn't work any more, and I find myself unreasonably sad to think about the inevitable end.
I apologized and rationalized and explained about bad latches and crazy-making hormones when people asked if I breastfed The Boy. And despite all the "breast is best" propaganda, I have found myself apologizing and rationalizing and explaining about nursing in public and cheap food when people ask if I'm breastfeeding The Lad.
So, back to the recent anti-breastfeeding sentiments. Let's forget about the grossed-out, attention-seeking celebs. Let's talk about that editor calling breastfeeding creepy. She has since said she wrote the article -- in a flippant tone -- trying to make women who formula-feed, for whatever reason, feel better about the choice. Amen. I'm all for that. There are a thousand of reasons why babies need formula, and nursing, though natural, isn't easy and doesn't work for everyone. I know that. But, do we have to make formula-feeding women feel better at the expense of breastfeeding women? For that matter, when breastfeeding still is something a minority of women do -- because of crappy maternity leave, because they can't afford the up-front, hefty price of a pump, because they don't have time to pump, because they have to work, because people still hassle breastfeeding mothers in public -- why belittle that choice?
Breast vs. bottle shouldn't be what we're yelling about. What should be our concern is creating a world where women have options and are left the hell alone to feed their babies the best way for them.