When I was pregnant with my son I didn’t really think about how I was going to feed him. I assumed I’d breastfeed. End of story.
Except that’s not how it all played out. My son was born 7 weeks early, and the beginning of his life was a blur. He was taken immediately to the NICU for treatment. I didn’t even get to see him until a few hours later. I didn’t get to hold him until the next day (or was it the day after that?). I didn’t know that was something I could ask for.
When I was in recovery, waiting to see my little monster, a nurse came in to talk about breastmilk. She showed me how to use the electric pump and I watched the weird funnel thing milk my nipples as if I were a cow. But “breast is best”, so I continued to do it. I pumped every 2 hours, making sure that my son would have as much as he needed.
That first time I got to hold him was also the first time I got to try to breastfeed. He was small and underdeveloped, and he was having trouble eating anyway. Sticking my breast in his little mouth didn’t help. He couldn’t latch on. It wasn’t just me – it was bottles too. He just couldn’t suck properly.
He was fed my expressed breastmilk via gavage – or feeding tube.
During his 78 day stay in the NICU, mostly due to his inability to eat enough to gain or maintain his weight, I only tried breastfeeding one more time. He still wouldn’t latch on, so we continued our mission to get him to drink from a bottle. Eventually we found a bottle that he could drink from, he gained weight, and he came home.
At home, I continued to pump every 2 hours. On top of caring for my child – who had come home on a heart monitor and had weekly visits from developmental and nutrition specialists – I had to sit on the couch every 2 hours attached to a pump. I was also suffering from what I now know to have been postpartum depression. It was exhausting.
Since he had so much trouble eating and gaining weight, I was also supplementing the breastmilk with formula. But I kept pumping, because the “breast is best” and I wanted the best for the little monster.
Nine months later, I had to quit. I was tired from getting up throughout the night to make him a bottle, change his diaper, pump more breastmilk. I was sleeping all the time, just to try and make up for what I was losing during the day. I spent a lot of time sitting on the couch, the baby on a blanket in the middle of the living room, pumping breastmilk and staring at the television. I was chained to the pump, and I was over it.
The stockpile of frozen breastmilk lasted a while past that ninth month. We used it – still supplemented with formula – until it was gone, and then he had just formula.
Quitting the pump was one of the best decisions I made. My only regret is that I chained myself to it for so long.
My son, now five years old, is a healthy and happy little man. He’s never been really sick since his early NICU days.
I am “mom enough.” I am enough for him because I provide my son with everything he needs for a healthy and happy life. He eats well, gets plenty of exercise, and is loved beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
The media needs to take responsibility for its actions. The media is the only reason there is such thing as “mommy wars.” The mothers I know, including the hundreds of women I talk to through social media, share the same view I do. If you are doing what’s best for you and your child, then you are doing it right. If your child is healthy, happy, and out of harm’s way, then you are doing it right.
Am I mom enough for attachment parenting and breastfeeding until my kid is off to college?
But I am mom enough for my son. I am mom enough.
I am enough.
And so are you.
Disclaimer: I have not read the article in TIME magazine entitled “Are You Mom Enough?” I do not care to. This is just what came to mind when I saw the cover and subsequent backlash on the Twitter and the Facebook.
Since writing and scheduling this post, I read this article on BlogHer by the woman who posed on the cover of TIME. I love it.
I also read, and enjoyed, the one from Lisa Belkin on the Huffington Post: No. I Am Not Mom Enough.
And another response I love, by Kelly at Go Go Gadget Zen.
Did you read a post that resonated with you that was sparked by this conversation? Please share it with me in the comments below.