Monday, January 5, 2009

The Breastfeeding Debate--it's so much more than that...

Sometimes I have to laugh at parents who sit and worry so much about such matters as whether to breastfeed and not to breastfeed (ongoing debate), and that these young mothers become so anxious about possibly “screwing up” the development of their child so early on…. These parents are made to feel guilty and shameful, and are usually open for ridicule from the “expert moms” and doctors who believe that they should over not.

As a mom who was not successful at breastfeeding her kids, Nick was just too hungry to be satisfied by my milk supply, that I would lean toward the bottle to supplement and then just allowed the convenience to take hold—because I knew my son and I knew what was best for him—case closed. Did I feel bad about it? Yeah—I’m no different than any other mother, but I also felt like a better mom for listening to my gut and not the words of other so-called "wiser” moms, doctors, and the damned “baby book bible.”

My point is that there are so many other elements to parenting—so far beyond those first few months and the breastfeeding issue—that parents really do need all their energy and focus placed on these other elements of their child’s development, progress and happiness. Trust me. Focus on getting to know your child for who he is and pay less attention to comparing, competing, or preaching.

One day when Nick was about 7 months old, or so, we were dining at a small restaurant in Boston and Nick was holding his bottle (Playtex) with one hand. We thought nothing of it because that was what he was able to do at that stage of his development. The people at the next table to us also had a son of about the same age and just had to say something about Nick. They were so impressed and in awe with his ability at his age that they started insulting their own child and his “lack of” abilities.

I didn’t walk away gloating that my son was a genius of all babies his age and soon to conquer the world as Nick the Great—hell, I already knew he was great!! But I took his abilities at what they were for him at that time. We all acquire our own skills, talents, concepts and opinions that others may have yet to acquire or own—heck, I’m still trying to acquire some myself, but the one thing that I did know about my son at that early age was his ability to sit, attend, and absorb information—even early on—and these are the “bigger things.” And more importantly, I learned to trust my own instincts about him—as my shield and armor—because I knew him so well.

Flash ahead a few years and we knew that Nick was slower to develop and needed special help; but, again, I also “knew” him and I knew he was taking in information and asking for names and labels and absorbing everything that especially interested him, regardless of what others were saying and prejudging his abilities.

So when a group of doctors—highly acclaimed in their field (who says so anyway??)—told me quite conclusively that Nick would be nothing more than a trash man in life, I thought what a fool I would be if I listened to them and not myself—someone who knew him and had learned to trust her own instincts. To actually believed in them more than I believed in us. To believe the words, convictions, and thoughts of others who had only known him for a few short hours as opposed to my expert opinion as someone who had known him his entire life—through and through—as only a mother could. To actually be swayed to believe or think differently of my child than what I had already come to trust in myself; well then—I would be a fool.


Mama Mara said...

No they DIDN'T say he'd be no more than a trash man. These people were experts in what? Rash generalization? Classism? Tactlessness? Yikes.

I am disturbingly-easily swayed by the opinions of experts, a character flaw that I always need to be watching closely when I get near these opinionated folks. You are fortunate to have such a healthy sense of skepticism, something I hope to glean from you now and again!

Tanya @ Teenautism said...

Kudos to you for listening to yourself and your instincts - about breastfeeding and especially everything else. You make your fellow moms proud!

Maddy said...

Good for you dearie. I think all experts must be pessimists by nature.
Best wishes

Anonymous said...

I ebb and flow between being elated about my son (today) and down in the dumps about what is going on.

In all the therapy I've been in personally, they really do try to teach you to be in the moment. No predictions about the future (trash man, president or otherwise). Look at what's happening today and deal with it.

Someday, I hope to get to a point where I can feel optimistically realistic about things and not have the balances sway too far one way or another. But that proves harder to do than say.

babs m said...

Exactly! They reach as high as we encourage them to do!! You go, girl!