Friday, February 18, 2011

MSM: Moms Supporting Moms

As I write this I am utterly exhausted.  I should lie down and sleep and plan on it, but I have been putting off writing this entry for 3 weeks now, in an attempt to try to get sleep and I can no longer put it off.

I don't even know where to begin, so I am just going to write as my heart guides me--if it fails to make as much sense as I hoped it would, my apologies.

Joshua is 3 weeks old today.  I love him with all my heart and think he is absolutely precious.  But he is not a "good" baby.  I won't lie, in the wee hours of the morning, I have sat or laid there in the dim light of a night-light crying and asking God why He is doing this to me.  Why am I the recipient of yet one more difficult baby when I already have so much on my plate?  ...forgive me...yes...I know there are others that have and are enduring much more than I with potentially "worse" babies, but I am being 100% honest with how I am feeling right now...it is MY blog after all...  But I look around and see moms whose husbands are home everyday to help them out (not to mention possibly having other family around too) and they get the easiest baby in the world.  WHY?!  I am fortunate enough to be around lots of family and friends but NOTHING replaces having daddy there to help. 

Since his birth, we have had to deal with--and this is just what I can think of right now--a 12% drop in his weight due to the fact that I am physically incapable of producing enough breastmilk, the loss of one of my dearest friends at the age of 32, an ice storm that severed power/heat at our home for 3 days/nights forcing us to move in with my sister who had power/heat (thank heavens), no schedule/routine for the older boys which rendered them stir crazy, cranky, and hard to handle, a nasty bout of the baby blues, tummy issues for poor little Joshy and now a very stuffy nose, and to round it all out, he is a baby that is seeming more and more to NEVER want to be put down to sleep. 

If you think I am whiny and should shut up, then stop reading now--I could care less what you think at this point.  I am exhausted and every other day I feel like I am at the end of my rope.  I can only imagine what state I'd be in if I weren't living close to family right now.  Of course, then, maybe God would have taken pity on me and given me a better baby.  Again, in all honesty, I have wondered if THAT is why He is allowing all this to happen.

But let me cut to the ONE thing that I can't seem to outrun...breastfeeding.  It is a wonderful thing.  It is a natural thing.  It is the best possible food for your baby.  I know all that and I get all that.  BUT...let me say this now and let me make this PERFECTLY clear--A.) It is NOT a black or white issue wherein a woman either chooses to breastfeed or chooses NOT to breastfeed--there is a HUGE gray area full of women like me who wanted to nurse our babies and be their sole source of nutrition SO badly that we struggle with NOT being able to EVERYDAY of our lives.  ...and B.) Just because a woman breastfeeds does NOT make her a better mother than the women next to her that cannot or chooses not too, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to come down of their high horse and live a day in the other woman's shoes and--more than anything--realize it is the amount of love given to that baby that really matters! 

I am not speaking to any one breastfeeding mom in particular--please know that.  Do I admit that I am jealous of the fact that you can nurse exclusively?  Yes, but I am not aiming my comments at you.  Rather I am speaking to the "breastfeeding establishment" who, whether they mean to or not, run formula-feeding moms into the ground by failing to realize that many may have nursed if given the proper POSITIVE support, or that some women TRULY cannot produce enough for their babies.  In my case, after giving birth to 3 children, I was finally told WHY I saw drastic weight loss in all three babies despite nursing exclusively and around the clock for the first week of each of their lives--I have hypoplastic breasts, which in my individual case basically means I only have milk glands on the outer half of each breast and even those are sparse.  Translation: I am lucky if I can physically produce HALF of what a baby of mine would need to thrive on.  But for those who still don't believe me, who still think that there is NEVER a situation in which a woman could not produce enough (meaning they just didn't work hard enough at it), what about the woman who was victim to breast cancer at a young age and had to have a double mastectomy?  I doubt you would make her feel as though she simply was not determined enough to make breastfeeding work, so why would you make anyone else who struggled with it feel that way? 

Do I think there is a real mess in how our government/big healthcare say they support breastfeeding but then "push" expensive formula?  Hell yes!  So I totally agree that all insurances should cover breastpumps for all moms (not just those of preemies in the NICU), and that there needs to be a real overhaul of how we TRULY and TANGIBLY support breastfeeding in our American society.  But hand-in-hand with that, there MUST be more information available to women about the options out there should they NOT be able to nurse exclusively.  Just in the last hour, I learned that the WHO (World Health Organization) ranked infant formula as the FOURTH best choice for infant feeding!  I knew breast was #1 but I had NO idea that formula was NOT the next best thing as most doctors say.  A friend told me she thinks goat's milk is #2, but was unsure of #3....I am on a hunt to find out now.  Mostly because I feel that that kind of information should be shared better to all new moms.  And what about milk-banks?  I only recently knew such a thing existed!  Perhaps those mamas who produce enough for small nations should be alerted too--I know a few who would probably gladly donate their extra milk.  And I on the opposite end would sure be interested in being on the receiving end, if there were one nearer to me than 2 hours away.  In the meantime, I will continue doing what I am doing as far as feeding--giving Joshua what breastmilk I can for as long as I can, but supplementing with formula.

My point is this: we need, as moms, to support each other.  Period.  No judgement.  No thinking you are better because you make different parenting choices.  No thinking "how could she?!" because she does something different than you.  Because you see, we ALL struggle.  We all need a shoulder to cry on.  We all need help sometime.  If I didn't have a newborn myself, and had a friend who did who was exclusively nursing and needed help, I would certainly offer to do anything else I could to be of assistance.  Even if her parenting choices were different than mine.  She is a mom.  The baby is a baby.  The love is there and help is needed.  Support is needed.  So support the fact that she loves that baby and is doing the best she can with what she was given.  You never know when you might need her help or support.

6 comments:

  1. Amanda I just wanted to tell you how brave you are to put yourself out there and be REAL! I understand your pain in not being able to nurse...I choose not to nurse James becuase I was young and scare...I tried with Hal and it was not a positive experience for me that it is for some moms. I also was looked down on by many women who feel that exclusive breastfeeding is the only way.
    I will be praying for you and little Joshy. Wish I could help you out more but living so far away I can only offer to pray.
    You are loved...and you ARE a good mom!!! Don't doubt that!!!

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  2. Amanda----I applaud you on you comments on breastfeeding! As a NICU nurse, I know that is the best thing for babies, but I am often citicized by my peers for not pushing some of our moms harder to do it. I am of the opinion that it is a personal choice and if a mom chooses not to for whatever reason, her baby will be just fine on formula. I tell moms that and it really drives the lactation people absolutely nuts! But, being a Basham I am as stubborn as they come and I am not about to change just because they say so (maybe especially because they say so :-)!) I have seen the lactation people put moms on major guilt trips because they have chosen not to breastfeed and it really pisses me off! I have never had a child (except my four-legged ones)so I can never claim to know how any of you feel, but doing what I have been doing for 20 years, I can say I do feel for you. Don't ever think you are a bad mother because you can't or choose not to breast feed. If formula is what it takes to keep little Joshy helthy and satisfied then so be it. Good luck--hope things get better soon.

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  3. You're the best, Amanda! Hang in there and I personally think the sooner you and/or Josh decides to stop breastfeeding, the better Mom you will be. It's easier to love and smile, if you are not exhausted.
    From one who tried and couldn't breastfeed,and loves and respects you for giving it your best effort, Aunt Marge

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  4. I echo all the above comment. I tried, unsuccessfully, to nurse both of my girls. My guilt caused me to keep trying with Sommer until she lost over 14% of her body weight and ended up hospitalized at 10 old for a full week. My biggest regret with her isn't that I didn't try harder, its that I put my needs above her needs. Thank God she made it through my insecurity. The Doctor at Carle said if I had let it go for 24 more hours we likely would have lost Sommer. I'm grateful I had a close friend (who is also my cousin) willing to help me stand up and say I was done nursing when people made me feel guilty about stopping. Do what is best for Josh and you. Don't make the same mistake I did.

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  5. Agreed 100% I wish I lived closer I would bank for you or anyone else for that matter, however if you watch me nurse I'm sure you'd wonder how the heck I do it cause it isn't the right way. Owen is a terrible nurser, he stands up he pulls he pushes he twists me into terrible positions, but do I think it makes me any better than you, nope I cry cause he is a terrible sleeper and he's 8 months. I get the why don't you let him cry it out you don't have him on a schedule you should do it this way too. There are so many ways to be a mom and I agree it doesn't matter which way you choose as long as you love them (which I know you do)it is the right way no matter what anyone else may think. I'm a terrible mom at times, but know I'd never judge you for what you feed your kids whether its as a baby or as a toddler or as a 9 year old. I have stick thin boys that only eat this or that and I hear about it all the time, so really the judgements don't end at breastfeeding, it goes on and on especially with organics on the market, I'm that bad mom that doesn't spend $5 on organic milk, what am I doing to my kids. Agh! Maybe I shouldn't have read this I think you and I could drink coffee all day and agree on most everything. Praying for you, I'm moving to Atlanta so I'll be a little closer maybe we can meet up sometime in the next millenia :)

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  6. Just now reading this, and I'm hoping things are going better for you now. Sorry to hear about all you've been going through. I know its rough. I know you will all be soooo happy when daddy finally returns home. In the meantime, I will pray for you. I agree with your comments on breastfeeding. Its not an easy thing to do exclusively, and I felt "guilted" into it. I felt like I was being a bad mother if I gave her formula, but I know now that isn't true. The problem I had, however, was that my first baby got so used to my milk that she wouldn't drink the formula, and I never had enough milk to pump good enough. So, that was hard because I couldn't go anywhere without her. Needless to say, I was soooo glad when she finally started drinking regular milk from a sippy cup. Then, a whole new slew of problems came up because it turns out she was allergic and we didn't know it until she was 2 years old. Ugh! So, anyway, I understand some of your frustrations. If you ever need a break, please call. I'd love to have you come over and chat for awhile, and maybe our boys would enjoy playing together. Hang in there!

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