We landed in Minneapolis Wednesday (my third flight to this airport in six days) only to jump in the car and drive three hours through cornfields to Iowa. Annie did not want any part of this agenda. She cried, screamed, pooped, and refused to eat. Poor little squirrel. She was just exhausted.
We pulled into a Starbucks parking lot and I tried to nurse her. Nope. Not happening. She jerked, squirmed, played dead (she actually rolled her eyes back in her head, dropped her mouth open, and began to form pathetic little spit bubbles), and gave me the stink eye. I just felt guilt.
Yes, I know. Guilt seems to be my companion lately; I am working on de-friending her, I promise.
Ryan announced that it was time. He was going to the grocery store next door to buy the much dreaded formula. We had talked about it in hushed silence before, but I was not ready to commit. My eyes filled with tears. I am totally flunking mom-hood.
Before you all come to my rescue… may I digress?
In my neck of the woods breastfeeding is the only acceptable way to raise a child. I don’t get this from my family, or friends, or anyone who is actually in my life. In fact, they all say to do formula for sanity sake. I was only breastfed for a month… I’m alive and kicking. In fact, I know many, many people who are vibrant, healthy, intelligent adults who never had a single drop of breast milk.
Don’t tell that to the elusive they though… they will beat you up with statistics until you are on your knees, shamed, and begging for mercy. And your child will then only have a dismal future. They will probably not graduate kindergarten, will never be able to function in a social circle, and will most likely shrivel up to the size of a small cat as they suffer from allergies, ear infections, and the constant cold. Poor child is basically given no chance of a proper survival.
The elusive they that surrounds me disdains formula the way prohibitionists disdained the drink.
And as Ryan went into the store, I could only think, “Thank God they aren’t here.” Like the people in the twenties and thirties who needed their liquor; I told Ryan to please slink in and proceed as quietly and discreetly as possible, leaving no trace of his visit to the formula aisle; lest we become victims of a citizen’s arrest by a well-intentioned La Leche League activist who begs us to reconsider.
Please hear me say: I know breast milk is the best thing for my daughter. Why wouldn’t it be? A woman’s body is simply made the way it is for very specific reasons. And nursing is my first choice… but so was a natural labor, and buying only organic diapers… and we all know how that turned out.
The thing is, formula works too. I mean, there are moms all around the world in refugee camps and such who would kill to give their children formula. But it’s not just for refugee babies either. Lots of moms use formula for lots of reasons, and what do you know, they are really good moms. Still, the car was haunted by leche ghosts.
Ryan got back, he poured the nasty smelling stuff in, and with tears going down my face, in the back of the car, in somewhere Iowa, I shoved the bottle into my screaming daughters mouth.
She smiled. Then devoured. And never looked back.
I was personally offended.
What? She’ll just eat anything? Not even bat an eye? I spend the last three and half months slaving over this art form of nursing and she doesn’t care one way or the other?
I cried some more. It hit me. This kid doesn’t need me. Of course this is not true, but in the moment it felt like this was the one thing I could uniquely give her yet it did not seem to interest her anymore.
Fine! Don’t take the boob! Turn out like a small cat with no social skills and the constant dribble and see how you like that! Your poop’s gonna stink worse, you know? And I’m not even going to feel bad for you; I might even make you sit in it for a while. And then whose gonna come crawling back? Huh? Disdaining the teet. What’s wrong with you? Take that baby!
That’s when, as a parent, you need to walk away and take a breather.
I took a nap. A blurry-eyed, breast-rejection, pity party nap. I think it was the accumulation of the week catching up with me. Either way, I did have it out in my mind with my adorable baby who I love to pieces because she chose formula over me. And that is a little psycho.
It’s all their fault. And they know who they are.
Making me feel like I gotta sneak the formula, like you gotta sneak the drink.
She has nursed just fine ever since the fluke on the side of the road in Iowa. But to all you formula users out there: Press on my friends.
Your baby’s alive right?
(And to my three high school guys that read this blog: If you read this one, wow, we are really good friends now. And I am proud of you. You just listened to me vent about breastfeeding. Trust me, you just went up in every girl’s book. Reading these blogs will make you a better man! I promise. Wives have to have the babies; you have to buy the tampons, pregnancy tests, and bear the brunt of the emotional aftermath. The sooner you are prepared for this, the better. There… welcome to the club.)