I’m almost eight months into my journey as a mother of two…
I thought that having one kid changed me, but I think having the second brought me back to more of who I ‘used to be’. One thing about motherhood that nobody could’ve prepared me for was the judgement I would face from what felt like EVERYONE.
With my first child, I had every intention of breastfeeding. And then it just plain and simply did not work for us. Save your lectures about the lactation consultants and all that jazz and just take me at my word. The truth is, I was relieved when I ‘gave up’ on our trying and I said goodbye to my pump and our constant non-successful struggles to latch.
Baby number two was a champ and latched pretty well right away. But, then it became clear that something was just off with him and his little tummy. Turns out, he had a milk protein allergy. So I stopped all dairy and yet a few weeks later, he still wasn’t all that happy. I was worse. I cried a lot and I never slept. I was on supplements to increase my supply, I was on a strict high calorie diet. But nothing felt like it was paying off or helping. He screamed all night, he screamed all day.
My husband and I were losing our minds. I would beg him to come home from work so I could just breath and not feel like I was going to explode from exhaustion. Around six weeks, we decided that I, more so we, had reached our limit. Our son had his first bottle of soy formula two days shy of six weeks and it was instant calm. No more screaming all night and day. He had been hungrier than my supply could provide for and my constant state of panic and exhaustion weren’t helping.
I think the main reason I tried for so long wasn’t because of my fear of formula being bad for him, it was my fear of the judgement I would face from other mothers. I knew formula wasn’t bad for him. My other son had been fed formula and he’s never had more than a cold or slightly upset stomach a day in his life. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that breast milk is best IN MOST CASES. I also believe that every mother, every person, has a right to decide what is right for their own family. As a society we should support both sides. I’m not here to sway anyone in either direction. I’m here to say that as a mother, I never want to make another mother feel like she is inadequate when she is doing what she feels is best for her child.
Before I had children, I never knew how much competition there was between moms. And no, it’s not all moms. But it is enough to make you question your beliefs from time to time.
When I was a mom to just one little guy, I think I cared a great deal about what others thought of my parenting. I would beam and be delighted when someone commented on how smart he was or how well-behaved. I would blush beat red when he threw a fit in public or if someone took note of something they thought he was ‘behind’ on. The truth is, I really wish I would’ve ignored all that. It was a complete and total waste of time to care what anyone else thought of me or my child. I should have spent that time playing more with him, using every spare second to build his confidence and our relationship.
With the birth of my second child, I think I was out to prove just how great of a mom I was. Those first five weeks of what I call hell proved to me that I don’t have to prove anything to anyone except my children, my husband and myself. Only when I let go of caring what everyone else thought and did what I thought was needed and best did I begin to enjoy my second child.
I thought baby number two and I would never bond during those five weeks. We bonded within a week of that first bottle. It wasn’t the bottle itself and the end to our breastfeeding journey that brought peace to us. It was seeing my brand new little boy truly happy. Watching him start to pack on the pounds. Watching him smile at me for the first time. Watching my other son come alive again as he had his ‘mommy’ back. I wasn’t the sleep deprived shell of myself anymore. I felt alive. I felt love, warmth, and like I was doing what was right for them.
Nearly eight months into this crazy journey, I have my full self back and a whole lot more love than I ever imagined. Both of my sons giggle often. They also both throw big tantrums and there are still times when I’d prefer to lock myself in a room and hide. But there is a difference…
I no longer give a crap about what anyone else thinks of my parenting. I no longer waste time trying to impress anyone with what my kids do or don’t do. I don’t care if your kid is doing things my kid doesn’t and I don’t care if mine is doing things your’s doesn’t. The truth is, I love my children no matter what they do or when they do it. I don’t think any less of them when they make a mess or when they need a little extra help.
If you don’t like that my two-year old is throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, well then I recommend you plug your ears. We all march to our own drum and if he needs to express that he is angry about having to ride in the cart, well then so be it. This is one mom who refuses to take part in the so-called ‘mommy wars’. We’re not perfect, and I don’t want my children growing up under the impression that makes them any less of a person.