First, a shout out to everyone who participated in the #ISUPPORTYOU movement. You all rocked my socks off, even as I was only able to observe here and there (due to illness and vacation occurring simultaneously for me that week). 😦 Since I couldn’t participate, I was hoping we could reflect on your experience of that intentional support and the sharing around it at ETMW. Here is the first, in what I hope will become a series of posts (hint, hint), about #ISUPPORTYOU.
Today we welcome Reese to the blog. Being honest about who we were/are and being open to change and humble enough to acknowledge how and why we did is huge…particularly publicly. So thanks and kudos to you Reese for doing so.
I will begin this by saying that before having my son I was one of the women that was doing a good job of adding to mommy wars- I was definitely a sanctimommy. I remember when pregnant I saw a mom at my church mixing formula for her son. I stuck my nose up at that and I remember whispering to my husband that she was a lazy bad mother. I kid you not. I talked smack about anyone who did formula, anyone who had an epidural, etc. I would obviously exclusively breastfeed for a year, no formula whatsoever, and have a natural, drug-free birth.
I think this was the point that God decided maybe I needed a wake up call. So of course, after 19 hours after drug-free labour I ended up having to have an emergency c-section due to a cord around my son’s neck. I didn’t enjoy my new son; I was instead crying about how I had failed.
Breastfeeding went even worse and again looking back I think it’s no surprise that I was getting a wakeup call. Due to flat nipples, low supply, tongue tie and a myriad of other problems, my son decided at 7 weeks that he refused to do the boob anymore. For him, bottles was where it was at. I couldn’t let go of the idea of ‘doing things right’ so I began pumping while I saw four lactation consultants, hoping someone could help us. After two months, the LC finally told me that he was too old and too smart and it was time to end my breastfeeding journey. She looked me in the eye and said it was time to start enjoying motherhood. I realized then that neither my son nor I was happy. He was stressed out by constantly having a boob shoved in his face and I wasn’t enjoying our time together because I was constantly trying to latch him on.
So now for the past three months I have been an exclusive pumper. I am finally enjoying motherhood and just spending time with my son. I have come to terms that breastfeeding was not meant to be. From when he was two days old I have had to supplement him with formula because I have never made enough, but I am proud to give him what I can. I don’t know how long I will pump for; I will stop whenever it is too stressful or begins affecting my relationship with my son. Do I get dirty looks when I give my son a bottle? Sometimes. Do I feel the need to explain my story? Sometimes. But ultimatelyI know I am doing what’s best for my family and I can’t help it if someone else judges me.
Most of all, looking back I am grateful that I got that smack in the face. I am better person for it, and now I do follow the “I support you” movement wholeheartedly. When I think back to that mom in church, now I think that I have no idea why she chose to give him formula. She could be supplementing, she could be unable to breastfeed or she may have chosen to do formula. Either way, who am I to judge? What is best for her family may not be what is best for mine. I don’t know her story. She was feeding her baby with love and that’s all that matters.
A girlfriend and I were recently talking and she told me that she is thinking about stopping breastfeeding when she introduces solids because she finds breastfeeding to be too stressful. I knew why she was telling me- she wanted someone to tell her it was okay and not to judge that she was a bad mom. Had this been before my journey, yeah I would have judged her. But I told her what I had learned. I told her that it was okay and she should do what is best for her family, I told her that I supported her…and I meant it.
Reese McMillan lives in Caledonia, Ontario, Canada with her husband of four years, James, and their four and a half month old son Duncan. She has been exclusively pumping for three months and supplementing since birth.