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Breastfeeding, judgment and–finally–joyous mothering

Time spent regretting is time not spent making now better. I know this, but knowing doesn’t always magically deflect all pangs when I recall certain things. For example, it still pains me that I shirked most responsibility for wrongdoings when I was younger, leaving punishment to fall on my younger siblings.

Haven't changed a bit since then

Haven’t changed a bit

I choke up when I remember my high school graduation night. I spent the evening with my boyfriend and his family, not once considering that my mom might want to celebrate with me. I arrived home to find a table full of party food and a celebratory banner, but not a single person still awake to celebrate with me. My mom had spent money she didn’t have to celebrate me, and I hadn’t even bothered to show up. Nineteen years later, I still ache when I remember.

Bitterest of all is my remorse for all the joyous moments I failed to note the first two months of my son’s life. I sometimes saw his sweet face and appreciated it for what it was, but far more often I saw it and sobbed at what I could not do right for him: breastfeed.

As we were preparing for our release from the hospital, a lactation consultant stated ominously, “He’s losing too much weight. If you don’t get him eating soon, you’re going to have a serious problem.”

“Okay. So how do I get him to eat? What’s the plan?”

“Keep trying.”

“That’s not a plan. You’re telling me I’m going to have a problem, but you’re not giving me tools to fix it. That’s a problem.”

“Well . . . you can come back to our clinic if things aren’t working out.”

That was it. That was my guidance as I brought home a child the hospital recognized was barely eating.

I tried, and tried, and kept trying. I bawled as I told my visiting just-younger sister, “I’m a terrible mom. I can’t make him breastfeed. I’m failing.”

They saw the bigger picture that I couldn't

They saw the bigger picture that I couldn’t

Gently, my sister would try coaxing me to see that there is more to motherhood than simply feeding a child. She pointed to my love and loving care, but I could not hear her. Neither could I hear my son’s father, my partner, who shared my sister’s sentiment and added that all would be well as long as we got food into our son somehow. Between finger, spoon and syringe feeding, we did manage to get breast milk into him. We just weren’t doing it right. Specifically, I wasn’t doing it right.

I would never have judged another mother, but I judged myself hard. I wasn’t alone, either. I desperately sought practical guidance from breastfeeding forums, where some mothers responded with kind, encouraging words, but many others said things like:

  • I judge bottle feeders. And formula feeders? Even worse. I am doing it right. I am a better mom.
  • You’re using bottles? You’re poisoning your child with that plastic filth? Shame on you.
  • Women who don’t breastfeed just aren’t as motivated as me. They’re lazy.

These cold, hurtful statements so bluntly put–and abundant in almost every forum thread I visited–affirmed my conviction that I was a failure. The cheers of assent from the peanut gallery made this even easier to believe. It didn’t matter what my partner said, or my sister, or my friends. They were supposed to be nice to me. It was their job to tell me I was doing it right. Only forum strangers could be trusted to give it to me like it really was. Never mind that, like the hospital lactation consultant, they seldom gave one bit of constructive assistance.

I became more desperate to breastfeed. I constantly sought better forums, kinder women, clearer instructional videos. None helped. I found ample criticism but little clear guidance on actual steps I could take to effect positive change. As a businesswoman, I should have laughed at the inefficacy of these commenters’ feedback, but as a new mom, their words were truth.

After a couple of months of struggling, I was still determined to make breastfeeding happen at all costs. My success as a mother depended on it.

The lactation consultants I saw were friendly but ineffective. Little changed until my partner suggested I call our’s son’s pediatrician. “Maybe they know a good lactation consultant?” I was dubious, but felt it was worth a shot. I wasn’t getting any closer to answers searching websites by myself. I called and was given a referral to a local consultant. I followed up with a call to her office to find her clinic hours.

I drove to her community clinic with low expectations. Those low expectations remained as I began to tell her my story, mentioning forums almost immediately.

“Never look at those forums,” she commanded. “Never.”

“That’s what my partner says,” I told her ruefully.

“He’s right.”

After I finished giving her the rundown, she asked me to feed my son. In front of her. Terror of terrors, this abrasive woman was about to judge me face to face. I wasn’t sure I could handle live judgment. Instead of judgment, within a couple of seconds, she simply said, “I see the problem.”

“You do?”

“Yes.”

She quickly explained the problem wasn’t anything I was or wasn’t doing, but rather in mother-child configuration. She grabbed my breast without preface or ceremony, then used her hand to shape it. “See how this reshapes it? This will make it easier for both of you.”

It was so simple compared to the many crazy, complex, ineffective strategies I’d tried, it couldn’t possibly work.

It did.

“But . . . but . . . so many struggles . . . so many consultants . . . so much crying . . .” I stammered, overwhelmed by the breastfeeding suddenly transpiring between me and my son.

“You are feeding your baby. He’s fine, mama. You’re fine,” she said without sentimentality as she moved off to assist another mother. A minute before, she’d struck me as unsympathetic. Now I could practically see a halo over her head as she lent her assistance elsewhere.

mothering notebookIn the following weeks, I called and emailed her frequently, seldom having to wait more than a couple of minutes for her reply. I returned to her clinics twice a a week. She was abrupt, but she was my angel. I loved her most of all when she confiscated the notebook in which I’d meticulously documented each feeding: time, method, duration, estimated intake, special notes.

“Your baby is growing well and is healthy. You don’t need this. Motherhood isn’t set rules and easily measured output. You have to learn to trust your instincts, and what your baby is telling you. Which is that he’s fine.”

It was simultaneously freeing and terrifying separating myself from that accursed notebook. I didn’t trust yet that I could or would do it right, but I trusted my angel’s insistence I would figure it out if I gave myself the chance. I had little reason to doubt her based on my experience and the increasing confidence I saw in the other new mothers who attended her clinics with me.

Slowly, I did figure it out. Only once did I ignore her very first command that I must avoid forums. I had encountered some problems with nighttime feedings and wanted feedback on how to resolve them. Unfortunately, my query mentioned that I handled the nighttime feeding while my partner handled post-feed burping and diaper changes.

The outrage was palpable. How dare I force sleeplessness upon my partner! How weak was I to demand his wakefulness just so I could get sleep?! For every supportive comment, it seemed there was another that ignored my question and heaped vilification on me for this aside instead.

I started typing out a reply stating that I was a contract negotiator and needed sleep to perform my job well. The added ten minutes of burping and diaper checking on a two-hour sleep cycle, I began to explain, was brutal on my focus. I was poised to ask what their lives were like that they so easily cast stones instead of lifelines.

Then I remembered my angel, and I walked away instead. I needed neither their help nor their judgment.

I was finally learning to trust my maternal instincts.

18wI think of these things today because I am halfway through my second pregnancy. If I am so lucky, I am only twenty weeks from holding my second sunshine. I find myself thinking often on what came before, and how it will inform what comes next.

I don’t yet know the little soul about to enter my life, so I can’t speak for it. For myself, I now know these things:

  • There is more to motherhood than breastfeeding.
  • If my little one is loved, fed and growing, all is well, even if I have to offer a bottle or formula.
  • It is better to trust my partner and friends than strangers on the internet. Members of the former group want what is best for me and my baby, and are deeply invested in our mutual success.
  • Judgment changes nothing for the the better. Support changes everything for the better. I feel better and do better by supporting myself and others, and by promptly removing myself from unsupportive situations.

Since my breastfeeding forum days, I’ve seen abundant examples of mothers judging other mothers for any and every reason under the sun. I’ve also seen evidenced over and over again abundant, expansive, loving compassion for fellow mothers. As I prepare for round two of new motherhood, I am sure I will see more of each. I am just as sure I will make no room for the judgment—not to let it in, not to entertain it, certainly not to believe it.

I wish I could have given my first child the immediate gift of my patient, gentle assurance. But after a rocky start, I breastfed for more than two years, savoring every moment of that beautiful connection to my little one. I was sustained even as I sustained.

In the two years since, my son and I have shared countless sweet and silly moments alike. These are undoubtedly more prominent in his memory than the two months of his early life I spent in needless, exhausting distress. Knowing that those first two months are only a small part of our story so far won’t undo periodic regret, but it will help me temper that regret with the wisdom of experience. Indulging regret, like absorbing judgmental words on forums, is not useful. It is the antithesis of nurturing, which is active care to ensure tomorrow is brighter, and the day after that brighter still.

I am a good mom. I don’t need anyone else to affirm it, and I’m no longer interested in absorbing commentary from a peanut gallery of strangers. Strangers’ words reflect their own biases, not my tenderness or strength as a mother. Strangers can’t possibly know or reflect back at me my strengths as a mother, most of which they cannot see. The person who can and does reflect back those strengths is my son, and the reflection I see is an affirming one. When my son hugs his auntie while she’s crying, or touches a hurt friend gently and asks if they’re okay, or praises others for a job well done, or expresses concern for my errant actions, I see how vastly I misunderstood motherhood when I thought it boiled down to whether or not I could make breastfeeding work instantaneously.

The time I spend regretting then is the time I miss appreciating now.

I am not only a good mom, but a joyous mom, for as I look around I see I am in amazing company. We all do it a little differently, but parental success is not a formula. It is a process of seeing the little people we have nurtured, and constantly adapting our own nurturing to fit the people they are, too. It is the satisfaction of seeing those little ones grow ever less little, and ever more strong, confident and loving.

And it is, of course, recognizing that part of the goodness in our kids mirrors the goodness in us.

mirror

These are just a few of the amazing, uplifting links in my own network of supportive mothers:

E.L. FarrisHands Free MamaIf Only She Had Applied Herself
I Want A Dumpster Baby – The Loneliness of the Stay-at-Home-MotherThe Lucky Mom
Mothers Against Spoiled ChildrenNot As Sweet As I Look – Pinwheels and Poppies
SingleWorkingMomTransitioning MomYou Know It Happens At Your House Too

Who is in yours?
What are your favorite judgment-free resources?
What has made motherhood easier for you?
Please share!

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  1. November 12, 2013 at 4:08 am

    I am going to print this quote and tape it to my mirror: “Judgment changes nothing for the the better. Support changes everything for the better. I feel better and do better by supporting myself and others, and by promptly removing myself from unsupportive situations.” This is a beautiful mantra that resonates deeply with me. I love your story; I love your perspective. What a blessing to call you my friend.

    • maryerlain
      November 12, 2013 at 9:28 am

      Me Too!! This was fantastic.

    • November 13, 2013 at 4:35 am

      My mom was judged so oft and so harshly I never wanted to be that person . . . and yet, it is so hard not to be that person to myself! Perhaps I should say it was so hard? Once the right circumstances converged, it was easier to see what lifted me up and what pulled me down. Your words definitely lift up. Thank you. ♥

  2. Duffy
    November 12, 2013 at 4:41 am

    I am so glad you found a good consultant. I know the saint that walks the halls of my hospital’s maternity ward makes all the difference for so many mothers.

    • November 13, 2013 at 4:38 am

      I remember laughing when I first discovered there was such a thing as lactation consultants. “Wait, that’s a thing?” Now I’d never, ever laugh, same as I would not laugh at a breastfeeding class. In fact, this time I’ll be attending such a class taught by my favorite one. 🙂

  3. November 12, 2013 at 5:33 am

    I remember (trying) to breastfeed C in the beginning and hearing I wasn’t trying hard enough from other moms. I would cry with each feeding. The pain was unbearable. It wasn’t until we found a lactation counselor-a good one- that we were informed C came out of the womb not knowing how to suckle. After a few minutes with the lactation counselor’s finger in my daughter’s mouth, C latched on like a pro. Like you, I felt guilt over the tears and fears I shed, upon myself, my daughter, and so many around me. And, like you, those are but a blip on the radar of my memories.
    I also remember feeling anger at the moms who judged me. They judged when I stopped breastfeeding C at a year, because SHE was done. They judged me for breastfeeding A for a little over 2 years because SHE wasn’t done; they also judged me because she never once took a bottle which, I was told, was enabling spoiled behavior. Seriously?!
    I’ve been bouncing around a blog in my mind about this very topic, motherhood judgment, but you’ve captured it here beautifully. Motherhood isn’t about competition; it’s about looking into the eyes of that little one and asking, “What do YOU need from me?” rather than “What am I SUPPOSED to be doing?”
    Lovely, lovely, lovely, Deb! xoxo

    • November 13, 2013 at 4:47 am

      it’s about looking into the eyes of that little one and asking, “What do YOU need from me?” rather than “What am I SUPPOSED to be doing?”
      I love so much how you boil it down! A wholehearted “yes” to this.

      I remember certain of my law school classes talked about “framework.” I vaguely understood that different people’s life experiences would leave them to see things really differently, but it was still naive enough to believe we were more or less experiencing life exactly the same. I’m not sure when I began to really understand the idea of these experience frameworks, but it became a lot easier to interact with people once I did. Now when I hear statements like the terribly judgmental ones folks share with those who do things differently than them, I can’t help but think that they don’t yet understand factors of life can’t simply be swapped between people. What’s right in one circumstance might prove counterproductive in another.

      Thinking in these terms helps me feel more patient. Sometimes I can get a little exasperated, but . . . like judgment, my exasperation isn’t useful, so I try not to linger there.

      Thank you for your loving words. I am so glad to be able to soak in and learn from them. ♥

      • November 13, 2013 at 5:38 am

        I think understanding this, ” I can’t help but think that they don’t yet understand factors of life can’t simply be swapped between people. ” is a by product of experience when combined with compassion. I used to think it was a byproduct of aging, but as I’ve aged, I see there are people who will always be judgmental–largely because they choose to be.

  4. November 12, 2013 at 6:00 am

    Breastfeeding scares me because I hear so many stories about how difficult it can be.

    And you’re right: some people are so judgmental about breastfeeding, about drugs during labor, about c-sections. I wish everyone could just focus on the end result: the baby.

    Those forums are awful! I visited a few of the pregnancy ones. I never feel better about myself. And it sucks because as women (and mothers or mothers to be) we should be supportive. We’re all in the same boat.

    The first trimester was really rough for me. My doctor’s (and mom’s) instructions were the same: Stay off the internet!

    PS: Thanks for your comment on my blog post. It made stepping on the scale this morning a little easier. =)

    • November 13, 2013 at 4:55 am

      I get a little nervous imagining what the second time around will be like, but now I’m much more comfortable that there lots of times it happens without hiccup. There’s a very good chance things will go easily for both of us! My fingers are crossed, though I’ll be uncrossing them to sign up for a breastfeeding class. :p

      we should be supportive. We’re all in the same boat.
      Amen! I feel that more strongly by the day. Reading the comments here and on Facebook was so exciting to me. It’s easy to remember another person’s negative words, so that I can’t even recall any of the kind ones . . . just the shell shock from the harsh ones. There was none of that yesterday, and it was magical!

      A couple weeks back, I told Anthony I’d found something I’d done was horrible and would inevitably lead to our new child’s suffering. He gave me a dubious look and asked where I’d found that tidbit.* “Uuuuuh, some site I found by googling?”

      “DEB! No googling!”

      Our rule from my old NP was that I could find one site and look for answers there. Mayo Clinic is my go-to, when I . . . let’s say, remember . . . the rule. 0:)

      PS: Thanks for your comment on my blog post. It made stepping on the scale this morning a little easier. =)

      I am so glad to hear this. Your post had the same impact on me. ♥

      *Appropriately, initially typed “titbit.” Ahem!

  5. Amy
    November 12, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I breastfed my 1st child with minimal fuss. He was easy. My daughter however, was premature with an underdeveloped digestive system. Feeding her was a nightmare. She lost weight, projectile vomited constantly & screamed in pain incessantly. I managed to feed her for about 3 weeks before I lost my mind. I switched her to a predigested formula & the nightmare eased up… she gained a little weight. Doctor told me to try to breastfeed again so I did & the nightmare returned. In shame I put her back on the bottle & tried to pump and mix it into the formula…. yeah… no. Finally when she was about 2 months old & I was at my wits end feeling like a complete failure to 1 child when I had been so successful to the 1st, I had a nurse say to me the most precious advice I EVER received about parenting. She said to me that how could I bond to my precious baby if every time I fed her there were tears on both our parts. She asked me if I thought it was healthier for the baby to take a bottle of her formula that didn’t cause roaring pain in the arms of a happy mom or for us both to keep trying what had turned into a painful nightmare. She said she’d take quite happy time any day. I know the beauty of breastfeeding. I loved doing it for my son but I also know that I didn’t fail at anything. My daughter is now 18 & any health issues she has wouldn’t have been solved by being breastfed longer. I’m glad I allowed myself to be a successful mom by doing what was necessary for my child… In her case, predigested formula… rather than cave into what everyone else thought I needed to do.

    • November 13, 2013 at 5:01 am

      She said to me that how could I bond to my precious baby if every time I fed her there were tears on both our parts. She asked me if I thought it was healthier for the baby to take a bottle of her formula that didn’t cause roaring pain in the arms of a happy mom or for us both to keep trying what had turned into a painful nightmare. She said she’d take quite happy time any day.

      I got something in both my eyes reading this. I am so heartened to know there are professionals out there looking not to apply general rules but to take general guidelines and qualify them based upon the specific situations they’re facing.

      I’m glad I allowed myself to be a successful mom by doing what was necessary for my child… In her case, predigested formula… rather than cave into what everyone else thought I needed to do.

      Me, too. I hope, too, someone who’s struggling right now will read your words and take solace in them.

      Folks used to tell my mom she was a bad mom. Exasperated by her sensitivity to such commentary (because I was compassionate like that, ugh), I’d tell her, “Let it go! It’s too early to tell!” I was right about the latter part, at least. Now I wish I could go back in time and let her know time would prove those people wrong, but I think/hope she saw–or even sees–that for herself.

      Thank you for reading, for trusting your instincts, and for sharing your experience here. I am grateful. ♥

  6. November 12, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Breastfeeding, cloth diapers, baby food from a jar, putting your baby in a grocery cart, sling vs. carrier… the list is endless. And every mother on earth will have a different opinion.

    And let me tell you, it doesn’t end when they get out of diapers.
    “You let your preschooler watch that?”
    “You don’t make him eat all of his vegetables?”
    “Is he mature enough for his driver’s license?”
    “He should pay for that himself.”
    “I can’t believe he doesn’t come home from college more often to see you.”

    So I’m proud of you for this: “I needed neither their help nor their judgment.”

    And this: “I am a good mom. I don’t need anyone else to affirm it…”

    And you’ll trust those instincts from the very start this time, with two years of experience and on-the-job training behind you.

    • November 12, 2013 at 3:39 pm

      Soooo true!! When they are teens it gets ridiculous…”you are encouraging your son to be rebellious with his blue hair.” I am, really? He is a high school teacher today.

      • November 13, 2013 at 5:12 am

        Oy! More like, “I am allowing to discover who he is, although I know perfectly well that’s not touched by the color of his hair!” I’m storing this away as a reminder to myself. 😀

    • November 13, 2013 at 5:10 am

      Oh, gosh! Seeing that list of questions is really illuminating! It’s not just motherhood but everything, isn’t it? Day in and day out, I hear folks interacting with each other and asking questions like, “Is he mature enough for his driver’s license?” Such questions alternately make me ornery and giggly, as I restrain my urge to ask, “Do you think they really didn’t consider that? Do you think they just woke up one day and went, ‘Aw, heck, why not?!'” I wish more folks would assume that basic assessments were already made pre-decision based on facts and experiences in any very particular case. By the same token, I didn’t do that until maybe a half-dozen years ago.

      You know that post on great managers I mean to write? I’ve considered including my last ex-boyfriend in that post. He was the one who got me to move away from scripted conversation and started engaging in the conversation actually at hand. His analyses sometimes irritated me at the time, but I think they’ve been most fundamental in changing what and how I hear, both on and off the job. I’m thankful for that, even if he never got paid for that particular job. 😀

  7. November 12, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Thank you for honoring me with a spot in that list. This is a fantastic post. You are awesome. Can’t wait to “meet” your second sunshine! xoxoxo

    • November 13, 2013 at 5:14 am

      Thank you! I actually cried looking at that picture of me holding Li’l D. It’s all so obvious in retrospect. Beside that, I remember as if it was just seconds ago the feeling of holding him and wondering who he’d become. Now I can see who he’s becoming, and it’s beautiful. I’m so excited to usher in the other one, and starting learning who s/he is. ♥

  8. November 12, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I love this post and the awesome comments from the women here. My favorite quote is one I say to all new moms: “You have to learn to trust your instincts.” As the mom, you will know better what your baby needs than any nurse, consultant, doctor, web site, book, etc.

    • January 11, 2014 at 11:13 am

      It’s so hard to learn to trust them, but the work involved in doing so is worth the payoff! It’s made many things outside of mothering easier, as I decide how to weigh “scientific evidence” and the like against what I know to be true of my own particular body and life.

  9. November 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Wonderful post! Breastfeeding was tricky and hurtful for me until 2 months…finally I could enjoy my baby. I got support from a Mothering group…they helped like the Leche League but better…you see they helped any new mom even if you did not breast feed. I joined them later to be a bottle/breast feeding counsellor…helping moms adjust to being a mom…learning to trust being mommies! My daughter tried nursing in the hospital and had a tough time and she was so discouraged. Nursing was so not like her. So I asked her why she chose to, “Um, well, it’s the best you can give to a baby.” I asked her what she was going to do once she got home. “Oh, i’m gonna use the pump and give him the bottle, I can stand this” So I suggested she just stop now, so she could give the bottle with love rather than the breast with disdain. Formula is better than it was 30 years ago and she was/is a great mom. I loved breast feeding but no one should be pressured to do so. I just love your post…thank you for sharing this!!

    • January 11, 2014 at 11:15 am

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I love what another commenter here said about doing what works well holistically. Is it better to do something that hurts and is frustrating, draining energy from bonding with a child, or to do what works in the whole scope of life? It’s well and good to have general ideals about things, so long as it’s tempered with the fact ideals will be tested by real life!

  10. November 12, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Great post! I know exactly how you felt from reading the forums and feeling like I was a horrible mom because I could not breastfeed any longer. My son had to have surgery at one month old for pyloric stenosis. I could not breastfeed him for 3 days since the doctors wanted to monitor how much he ate and my milk dried up. I tried everything to get it back but it was never the same. I ended up switching to formula when he was 10 weeks old. Best decision I ever made for the both of us. He was no longer trying to feed for an hour and a half and I gained my sanity back. Again, I loved this post!

    • January 11, 2014 at 11:18 am

      I’m so glad you found a path that worked for you and your son! I also can’t even begin to express how much better I feel about round two, learning what I did the first time around! I know it will be more exhausting in some ways because I’m away from home longer and already have a four-year-old, but it will be less emotionally exhausting in others now that I know to stay far, far away from forums. If I have questions or concerns, I will seek help of professionals who show their skills and friends whose love and wisdom will sustain. There are many ways to get a child through to adulthood, with great love, and that’s the big picture I’ll be keeping in mind this time around. ♥

  11. November 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    I loved this. I love you and your relationship with motherhood.

  12. Koa
    November 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    You are a good mama. That is all we ever want to hear, isn’t it? I try to sat it once a day, to anyone who needs it, and many who don’t even know they do. I struggled so much with breast feeding also, trying to feed on one boob (the “bad” one, who knew?) after breast cancer at the young age of 28. I wrote about it recently, and finally got it. Finally got all the million things that being a mother is, not just the few that we line up for ourselves in those early months. I love your post here.

    • January 11, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Now I need to go find this post.

      I love, love, love that you look for an opportunity to say someone is a good mama once a day. I try to find several kind things to say in the day, but this is one thing I think I’ve hardly ever said . . . though I have thought it. I want to change that.

  13. November 13, 2013 at 12:05 am

    It’s so funny (and sad) to know that this same attitude prevails with child-rearing, because I’m totally used to that exact sort of behavior… among horse people. 😀 It’s really interesting I think how people are sort of innately driven to be RIGHT all the time, like that’s the most important thing… whether it was my first time touching a horse or I was an Olympic gold-medalist, there’d be somebody standing by to tell me I was doing everything about horsemanship wrong. I guess it stands to reason it’s the same with parenting children. Everybody’s got their opinions and their particular ways of doing things that come from their own accumulated experiences, and it seems like it’s an irresistible human impulse to want to “share” that with other people. Sometimes forcefully. ;D I like to think of it as a mark of maturity that I don’t usually try to tell other people how to do things anymore, but I’m happy to help them if they have questions or they want assistance with something. I just can’t imagine having that kind of pressure on top of trying to get a baby to suckle. Trying to get a foal to nurse is hard enough. I remember talking to you soon after you had that first session with the lactation specialist and how much less stressed you sounded overall…. I can’t even imagine trying to get the hang of something like that and having people tell you that it’s your fault somehow. I would make a terrible mother ’cause I’d spend half the time transforming into the Hulk and smashing shit. 😀

    Also, I think one day I’m going to reach some kind of threshold where my constant comparison of children to animals is going to go from like… eye-rollingly predictable to just outright offensive. Do let me know when I’ve crossed that line, eh? 😀

    • January 11, 2014 at 11:22 am

      See, the difference between your comparing your experiences to those with animals is that they’re thoughtful, on target . . . and reflect sensitivity to the potential differences in the two experiences! These ones feel especially spot on, unlike those from a dog trainer who once offered up some advice at IHOP. My response startled her; apparently she’d expected me to bow in reverence to her dog-related insight on child-rearing! Also, I think she wasn’t expecting that her advice’s recipient would have significant experience with dogs as well. 🙂

      Unrelated to anything here, have I told you lately that I love you? Miss you!

      • January 12, 2014 at 9:50 am

        I think you might’ve told me that story and I might be like blocking it from my memory because it was too horrifying. I’m seriously never going to understand the whole strangers getting all up in your business thing. And when you’re pregnant your business is so fucking visible to everybody, it’s not like you can HIDE it after a certain point, and they just act like you’re community property. IT’S SO GROSS.

  14. November 18, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Your post has reminded me that instead of looking back with regret, I can instead look at a past negative situation to see what I can learn from it. God’s grace steadily teaches me that I am where I am at any given moment and it’s not perfection but process that is important. Not doing something ‘right’ is not the issue; learning from my mistakes is.

    It strikes me that the folks who judge others on forums are using their words as a mask for their own insecurity and fears of inadequacy. In fact, I have found that whenever anyone (including me) has to toot their own horn, it is coming from a root of fear that they are not doing everything ‘right.’ I know someone is worth listening to not when they boast of themselves but when someone else boasts of them. That’s when I know they are genuine and worth hearing.

    Having raised 2 girls 19 months apart and then bearing a son 8 years later, I know what it is like to seriously learn from my mistakes. I cannot tell you how different – and how much more wonderful – it has been the third time around. Still, right now my closest relationship is with my eldest, so even in my mistakes (and mine were glaring and lasting – much more serious than not being able to forgive myself for breastfeeding troubles – which I also had with no. 1), grace has been here to pick me up over and over again. That is my hope the third time around as well. 🙂

    You are a GREAT Mom, Deborah! God bless!

    • January 11, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Thank you so much for your kind, supportive words!

      It strikes me that the folks who judge others on forums are using their words as a mask for their own insecurity and fears of inadequacy.

      I try to keep this in mind whenever I feel a gut level response to lash out at someone’s unwanted advice. I think, “If this person felt confident in themselves, they would spend more of their time doing things that are positive and less of their time telling other people things that are negative.” Reminding myself of this usually does the trick, but it can be a little harder right now. I’m trying to be patient with myself as I learn, for as you, I try to look at what’s done as a chance to do better next time instead of another opportunity for additional (and not particularly useful) self flagellation. 🙂

  15. December 14, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    I love your insight that support from those who know and love us is so much more valuable than “advice” from strangers. I, too, have fallen into the trap of shrugging off encouragement because my husband and family “has to” be encouraging. This post was a good reminder to filter out the unconstructive and destructive commentary that’s so easy to listen to.

    • January 11, 2014 at 11:27 am

      It’s something I keep coming back to as I get ready for #2: that the people who love me will take actions that help make me successful, not just berate me because it brings a moment of fleeting gratification. I know I’m going to be tireder than I can imagine, but . . . man, it brings such peace to go into it this time having faith that I will, with loving support and my own confidence in myself, find my footing.

  16. Passerby
    September 2, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    Just a passerby, stopping here years after you wrote this, to say I really appreciated reading your post. Thank you for sharing it, and I hope you have much joy with your family 🙂

  1. December 30, 2013 at 3:26 am
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