Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breast Feeding Failure Series: The Need to Explain

It's funny to do a series of posts to explain why you aren't doing something for your child.  Does it change anything? Of course not.  Am I trying to prove something? Not really.

I started thinking about this series of posts when I ran into a friend of mine at a store around Christmas time.  She also has a little one and asked me how I was doing with nursing.  She asked in a completely encouraging, non-judgemental way, but immediately I felt the need to explain myself.  Instead of just responding "Oh, we're formula feeding now," and leaving it at that, I felt a burden to explain our journey.  Granted, running into someone in the store at Christmas time isn't exactly the most convenient time or place to discuss such personal information.  However, that feeling of guilt made me start pondering on our nursing journey.  Why do we feel the need to explain ourselves on the very personal choices we've made as parents?  I often find that we feel the need to explain ourselves because it isn't the final outcome that tells our story.  The outcome doesn't explain our journey.

We knew what went wrong.  We know the mistakes we made that resulted in formula feeding, and we've come to terms with it.  However, over the past few months I have run into other new mothers that have had similar experiences/struggles with nursing that we did.  So instead of feeling the need to "explain" ourselves, I hoped that someone else can relate.  There are plenty of nursing success stories out there to find, and they are incredibly encouraging to new mothers that want to breast feed.  For some reason, no one speaks out on the "failure" stories.  There isn't much out there on how things can go wrong, how to get back on track, and how to handle different obstacles.

Speaking with one of my favorite other bloggers, she has chosen to do the same thing.  She too struggled with nursing and has recently begun supplementing formula, and struggled with the feelings of failure.  She's speaking out too.  After many discussions with her, we have collectively come to several conclusions.

1. Troubleshoot as early as possible. 
2. Seek help from any resources you have access to in your local area when struggling with supply.
3. Feeding your baby is the most important thing, even if that means formula feeding.  While it is easy to fall in the trap of feeling guilty for not breast feeding, we do what is best for our children. 

It's ok to admit our failures.  I'm ok with admitting failures.  I don't think calling myself a "failure" in one aspect of motherhood makes me a bad mother.  I don't think saying that I failed at nursing means that I've ruined my child's future or discounts the time I spent trying.   I use the term lightly because at some point, we all fail.  No matter the parenting struggle you go through, it's the willingness to shake it off, move on, and figure out what's next that make us who we are.


Erika and Jason said...

Beautifully written:) I feel the same pressure to explain myself. The conclusions are dead on.

Michelle M said...

Paige, I found your blog awhile back through another blog I was reading and I'm usually a lurker, but I was wondering--have you come across any resources for moms who want to exclusively pump? My husband and I are still a year or 2 away from wanting kids, but I've given nursing a lot of thought. I don't think it's for me, but I want my child to have the benefits of breast milk if possible. Thanks in advance for any thoughts you have on this!

Brittney said...

This was a great series. Thanks for doing it! I never really thought to, but I might in the future to help new moms, like you want to do. There are so many things that attributed to my failure with nursing E, but thankfully I'm on track and still nursing I at 5 months this time around with no issues. But, I'm doing things A LOT differently, which is something I am able to do now because of the lessons I learned the first time around. I do still feel guilty about not being able to nurse E for more than 3 months, but I also got pregnant with I when E was just 8 months, so had I been nursing him still she might not be here now. Anyway, sorry to ramble on your post! This was a great series. :)