Bun has been sick since November.
She has had repeated ear infections, two visits to an ENT (a third is upcoming — this time, I’ll be advocating for tubes and/or removal of the adenoids), and I think she has picked up every virus that has come down the pike this winter. She’s had colds galore (hence, the ear infections), the puking version of the flu, constipation, hives, and now another cold or flu virus that has come complete with snot, coughing (no chest congestion, thank goodness), a fever over 100 degrees, and another ear infection.
I stayed home with her yesterday, and we had a difficult day. I don’t know why I do it to myself, but if I end up at home with a sick child, I actually think I will accomplish something: cleaning my room, for example, or doing laundry, or swapping out the girls’ clothes.
Bun would have none of it. Her usual 3-hour nap was only 1 hour and 45 minutes, and I spent the whole of it driving to and from Target to get her prescription filled (and do a little shopping, of course. On a completely unrelated side-note, I just want to say that I only bought the items on my shopping list — a mean feat in Target, as everyone knows — and that I spent under $100! Okay, so it took three coupons and a $10 gift card to come in under $100, but I did it.) When she wasn’t napping, she was sitting on my lap demanding to be read to, or sitting on my lap demanding to watch TV, or demanding food that she had no intention of actually eating, or straining pathetically to produce some poop.
Constipation is the worst in a toddler. She’s been suffering for about two weeks. I thought it was the last antibiotic she was on, but that’s a week behind her now. We have a pretty high-fiber diet (being vegetarians and all), and she’s good at taking in plenty of liquids, but I upped everything anyway, and cut back a bit on stuff like cheese. Now she’s on Augmentin, so her constipation will switch to the other end of the spectrum, and her diaper area will be inflicted in Biblical-plague proportions. My little girl cannot catch a break.
Part of my frustration, of course, is having a sick child, worrying about the continued use of antibiotics, losing time at work, etc., etc. Part of the frustration comes from the fact that I breastfed Bun and Monkey, and it hasn’t done jack to protect either of them from (at the least) ear infections. I have been reading a lot of articles this week about breastfeeding, and they’ve sparked some discussions on forums other than this blog, and I just couldn’t let them go unremarked.
First off, is this wonderful piece from the Atlantic by Hanna Rosin, a woman who also writes for Slate.com. (The title, I think, is misleading. Summary: All the science that “proves” breast is best may be more of a bill of goods than hard data. That said, breastfeeding does have immeasurable benefits.)
Then there’s this article from Slate.com, regarding the brain boost breastfeeding may or may not give to children. (Summary: There is a gene involved, and if your child doesn’t have it, it doesn’t matter how much boob milk he/she gets. That said, most children seem to have it.)
If you are inclined to read any or all of that — and it’s all good, thought-provoking stuff — then maybe you’ll read further. I’ve been ruminating on this all since Wednesday, so I apologize if I seem to be going on a bit. I hope you’ll stick with me.
Let me say first: I am pro-breastfeeding, and I did (as I said) nurse both of my girls. I also pumped and supplemented with formula. I did it all, baby! And this as a W/SAHM. If I do have another baby (never say never), I would do my best to breastfeed and/or provide him or her with breastmilk, too.
Did I make that choice because all the “science” that promotes BF’ing? Maybe that influenced my decision. I certainly derived a lot of information and support from external sources (from books and magazine articles to my mother and SILs). I feel extremely lucky that BF’ing was not a struggle for me. I put both my girls to my breast within an hour after they were born, and they pretty much took it from there.
Did I love the intangibles about BF’ing? To wit: the skin-on-skin contact. The rush of warmth and pride that I could do this, that I could nourish my baby with my body. The bone-deep feeling that what I was doing was natural. Yes, yes I did.
Was it always comfortable and convenient? Hell, no. Was I a sleep-deprived zombie mommy for six, eight, twelve weeks? Hell, yes. Did I in a desperate bid for sleep or freedom give my babies a couple ounces of formula to get them the heck off my boob already? Hell, yes! Do I feel bad about that? Hell, no.
Would I ever let another woman make me feel bad about that? Again: Hell, no.
And here’s the crux of all this rambling: Would I ever let another woman — mother or not — make me feel bad about any decision I made regarding my child? No. Would I ever, on purpose, make another woman question or feel bad for any decision she made regarding her child? No. Not if the end result was a healthy and thriving baby, and a happy and healthy mother. (Please note: Ain’t nobody happy if Mama ain’t happy.)
I hate Mommy Wars. Passionately. I hate the stay-at-home moms who insist that their decision is the best decision period. I hate work-outside-the-home moms who think SAHMs are a big waste of brains. I hate moms who make decisions for their children based on what their peers will think of them instead of making decisions based on what is best for their children. I hate the whole BF Brigade and the lactivists who insist that “breast is best” in such a way that it makes moms who turned to or chose formula feeding feel like bad moms. I hate mothers who insist that motherhood is the end-all-be-all of womanhood. I hate child-free women and couples who act like kids are such a drag and/or devastating to the environment, and women should be ashamed for even longing to perpetuate the species. I hate people who look cross-eyed at women BF’ing in public and get all offended. I hate lactivists who wave their BF’ing boobs around and say, “It’s natural! Suck it!” (Pun intended.)
All of these are deeply personal choices that women, that mothers have to make. From the private, personal decision to become a mother or not in the first place. What right do I have to stand in another woman’s shoes and tell her that she made the wrong choice? And what nerve!
If a soon-to-be mom asked me about breastfeeding, I would wholly and enthusiastically encourage her. If a new mom was struggling after two weeks, I would encourage her to continue to try. But at some point where mom’s health and mental stability were bumping up against the need of her child to be fed — whether it be five weeks or six months — I think a mom has to be left alone to make her own decision.
If a mom decided from the get-go that she was going to formula feed, I would be surprised, but I certainly wouldn’t presume to judge her. It’s not my decision.
It’s not my decision.
It was my decision to become a mother. It was my decision to breast feed. It was my decision to supplement with formula. It was my decision to go back to work full time. It was my decision to raise my girls as vegetarians. The only other person who gets to weigh in on my decisions regarding my children is my husband, DearDR. And even with his input, it is still, in the end, my decision as the primary caregiver in the family. (Things like joining a soccer team or a dance class and schooling are much more a team effort.)
Opinions are like bellybuttons: everybody has one. (I know the adult version of that, too, but this strives to be a family-friendly site.) If you cannot offer your opinion without insulting anyone, please keep it to yourself. If you cannot express your opinion without making another party feel shame or guilt, it has no place here.
Thanks for your time.
Could someone help me down off this soapbox, please?