The TIME cover. While it’s about Dr. Bill Sears and attachment parenting—extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and wearing your baby around all day—the image and headline “Are You Mom Enough?” have fueled another fire in the Mommy Wars.
I hate the Mommy Wars. This is the reason I never played well with girls. I can’t stand the cattiness of it all. I try not to get involved. But the headline did strike a chord with me. Women are moved to judge by such things. It pushes buttons. It infuriates. It should only educate.
I do have a take on nursing, the mommy war over it, and why it needs to end. Every woman and child has a different experience, a different need. While I look at that TIME cover and can’t imagine that life for me, who am I to say anything about that mother? She is doing what she believes is good for her child and herself. The reason I can’t imagine that life for me? Nursing is not for everyone. I wasn’t able to nurse my firstborn and could barely do so with my second. And being judged for that wasn’t much fun.
My experience with nursing my first-born was hell. When the lactation consultants at the hospital tried to help us, they got things going for a few minutes and then my son would fuss. We went through this dozens of times with countless nurses. I was tired. My baby was hungry. I was a new, worried mother of a newborn who after 36 hours had had only drops of nourishment.
Every time I tried to nurse him, I changed positions, techniques, said prayers, cursed, relaxed, tensed up, cried a little, and wanted to freaking scream. I mashed the call button for help, but I knew the nurses wouldn’t be going home with me. I had to do it myself.
They realized my son’s frenulum, that long connecting tissue under the tongue, was too tight and he simply couldn’t nurse. They said it could stretch in time. They offered to cut it. My husband and I said no. They started bringing in all kinds of contraptions for me to try. A pump to get my milk flowing. I felt and looked like a cow and after all of my effort, I didn’t have an ounce of milk.
The nurses hooked me up to some tubing so I could finger-feed my son with my breast milk. I felt like someone’s science fair project and my son was still only getting drops of milk. He continued to fuss.
All the while, the lactation consultants kept telling me not to give him formula. It would be detrimental to my milk supply and to him ever latching on. I did as I was told, but my heart was quietly breaking. None of it felt right. I felt like my son was starving and I was sitting by watching.
By the middle of our last night in the hospital, another feeding just wasn’t happening. I knew what I wanted to do, but I was hesitant. The nurses had made me feel incapable. They were set on me not sabotaging nursing. My heart was more set on providing for my son. In the day and a half since he’d been born, we hadn’t had one tender moment of feeding and closeness. It had only involved strangers, contraptions, and too many opinions. I felt like we hadn’t bonded.
The nurse on our night shift was an older woman, and I asked for her honest opinion. She said she would give him a bottle. Relief washed over me and for the first time, I fed my son in peace. And I have never once regretted it.
I continued pumping at home but I never had enough milk. Nursing was not for us. And I have never felt guilty about it.
That was the first tough decision I made as a mother. It hasn’t been the last. So yes, I am mom enough. Because I don’t listen to anyone else. I don’t care what others are doing. I listen to my gut. That’s what makes me a mom.