September 02, 2005

You can go your own way

Originally uploaded by billyjoebob.
Recently, punkin, we've seen an interesting post on Rae's blog. She talks about the fact that she's chosen to stop breastfeeding her tiny wee man Albert.

People who know us will know that this is not something we are considering, given your - how to put this delicately - voracious appetite for the jus de boob. People who know us will know that we are earnest advocates of the concept that 'breast is best', and that we never, throughout your mum's pregnancy, seriously canvassed the idea that you would be a bottle-fed baby.

But here's the thing, punkin. We didn't dismiss it either. If there had been a compelling reason, if your mum's milk hadn't come through properly, if you hadn't been thriving, if your mum's nipples hadn't been able to cope, or if any one of a million other things had gone wrong, you would have been on the formula so fast your head would spin.

As a father of almost four months standing, I feel qualified in saying that parenting is a game of compromise. That, as a parent, you identify your ideal goal, and then get as close to it as you reasonably can. You don't pursue goals that are fruitless, or that are causing your baby undue distress. You and your partner make these kinds of decisions together, and they are sacrosanct.

It is not anyone else's place to pass comment on one's parenting decisions as long as they are not endangering the babe. Rae in writing her post about forgoing breastfeeding, turned off the comments on her blog, as far as I'm aware, as a method to forstall violent and vitriolic criticism.

I've been consistently surprised, as a new dad, by the amount of venom that some members of the parenting community are able to generate when they find someone who isn't living up to their ideas about how to raise a child. Babies, in my humble opinion, need to be warm, dry, well fed, and to know that they're loved. As long as these most basic needs are being met, the rest is up to their parents.

People wouldn't dream of telling others that they are buying the 'wrong' groceries in the supermarket, or that they have planted the 'wrong' trees in their backyard. With everything else in the world, people are prepared to accept the decisions that others make at face value, to offer the benefit of the doubt in passing judgement. But not, it seems in parenting. Time and time again, I have seen comments and writings from people that make no bones about guilt-tripping new parents into following a specific agenda in their birthing and parenting style.

Your grandmother told me once, when I was waxing lyrical about the horrible partner that a friend of mine was with, and how I couldn't see what they had in common, that the only people who ever know what's going on in a relationship are the people who are in it. That stands true for families too, punkling.

The only people who are qualified to make a decision or express an opinion on the way that people are raising their baby are the people who made it.

Love you.

Love you.


Caz said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Caz said...

My wee 'un turned 9 weeks old tonight, and she hasn't had breast milk for a week now. We started out exclusively breast feeding, but I just didn't have enough milk for her. So she started getting some feeds with formula, some with breast milk... but my milk supply kept dropping and dropping until, bam, no more. I feel sad about it, and I felt guilty for a while too. Especially when people keep asking why I'm not breast feeding - I feel like they're judging me. But at the end of the day, so long as baby is growing and is healthy, I guess that's all that matters.

Kathy said...

Well said, Bill, and exactly what we think here at Chez Zucchini. Both of mine have been breastfed - A until 15 months, E still going currently at 3.5 months - but it has had some very hard moments and I was a hair's bredth away from weaning E at 8 weeks. Part of the reason I didn't, I'll admit, was my perception of a huge social pressure / expectation to keep feeding, which is bolstered, for noble reasons I am sure, by health professionals. My husband and my mother were the only two people in my life telling me that if I had to move E to formula, it was OK. Probably because of their support for whatever decision I made, ironically enough, I was able to push through the pain issues and keep feeding, and now, finally, finally, breastfeeding has become easy and comfortable for us. 'Bout bloody time.

I get really narked at people who think they are qualified to comment on other people's parenting decisions, especially in respect to hot-button parental-guilt issues like feeding, sleeping and discipline. All loving parents make the best decisions they can for their kids and their families, and every else should just butt out.

Mrs_Pants said...

Delurking to say YAH for your post! #1 son was parially breast fed from day 4 until 6 weeks when I didn't have enough milk to feed an ant let alone an extremely hungry baby. It was difficult enough without strangers in shopping centre parents rooms asking me why I wasn't breastfeeding. My response to the first time it was asked was to burst into tears. He is now an almost 18 month healthy, happy kid.

#2 son is 8 weeks old and is being comp feed formula but breastfeeding is more successful this time even though I am still not making enough - just more than the first time.

This breastfeeding thing is so hard for some of us. People need to realise that.

Thanks again. I enjoy your blog.

jenu said...

Thanks to the title of this post I now have fleetwood mac in my head..

Caz said...

Re: what mrspants said about the stuff that happens in parents rooms in shopping centres: its been a real eye opener for me since I had my baby. I never in my life imagined that complete strangers would feel they have the right to discuss my breasts with me. I have never in my life gone up to a complete stranger to discuss THEIR breasts. What's wrong with people who feel they can do this?

Before becoming a mother, I never even considered that this sort of stuff goes on. I keep having to tell people "I HAVE NO MILK LEFT IN MY BREASTS SO BACK THE HELL OFF." But why should I have to? What I'm feeding my baby from the bottle could be breast milk for all they'd know. But even that wouldn't be good enough.

sussy said...

I find it hilarious that people could presume to tell anyone how to raise baby. Like you said, Bill, if anything had gone awry with the jus de boob, as you so eloquently put it, then what you decide to do is your business.

My aunt stuggled for months to breastfeed and she was rather upset that she just couldn't continue. Baby was hungry and not feeding properly (despite advice from various sources, professional and un). She switched over to the bottle and voila! Happy, healthy bubs who has managed to get to 16 months of age with no side effect from the "evil bottle".

And I saw the wee one on Friday night and cuddled him for a goodly long time. Couldn't find a more contented baby than the Malloy kid anywhere.